Tuesday :: May 31, 2005

"Pro-Life" Fakery on the Pharmacy Front


by eriposte

Crooks and Liars has an update on the pharmacist lawsuit against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. They provide a link to a press release from the Far Right American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) (whom I've covered briefly before in the context of religion and schools). Here's a relevant section of that press release (boldface and italics is my emphasis):

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which specializes in constitutional law, today filed an amended complaint in state court in Illinois adding four additional pharmacists to its lawsuit challenging Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s emergency amendment to the state code requiring pharmacists to dispense medication even if filling the prescriptions violate their conscience and religious beliefs....

“The Governor’s directive continues to cause concern for a growing number of pharmacists who don’t believe they should have to put their religious beliefs aside to keep their jobs,” said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which is representing the pharmacists.  “The law is clear:  pharmacists should not be punished for adhering to their religious beliefs.  A growing number of pharmacists believe the Governor’s directive forces them to dispense abortion producing drugs – something that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.  We’re hopeful that the court will recognize that the Governor’s directive is legally flawed and will move to protect the constitutional rights of pro-life pharmacists.”
...
The lawsuit contends all six pharmacists are opposed to dispensing the morning-after pill and/or “Plan B” medication because of their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs.  The pharmacists believe the drugs are abortion producing medications
...

If you think about it, the most amusing and utterly bogus aspect of this claim has nothing to do with the petitioners' beliefs about Plan B medication.

If they were really "pro-life", why the heck would they dispense *any* medication that might potentially kill a human being (as opposed to a cell or fetus)? After all, drug allergies and side-effects are a cause of tens of thousands of deaths every year! What is the moral basis by which these pinnacles of morality keep themselves occupied as pharmacists? Why is it "pro-life" to dispense any medication which has a documented history of killing someone, anyone? 

Also, if a customer cannot afford to pay for life-saving medication, will they deny the customer the medication even if it means the customer might die in the process? If not, how do they intend to make a living as pharmacists? Please, do tell. I'd like to understand how "pro-life" they really are.

Should I add that the morning-after pill or "Plan B" medication actually works not by aborting a fetus but by preventing a pregnancy in the first place? More on that in a second, but those on the Right who celebrate the Alan Guttmacher Institute's finding (released 5/19/05) that abortion rates continued to decline overall in the US in 2001 and 2002, surely trust this finding from the same institute? (I won't hold my breath):

A substantial proportion of the 11% decline in abortion rates between 1994 and 2000 was due to women's use of emergency contraception, according to a new analysis of contraceptive use among more than 10,000 U.S. women having abortions in 2000-2001.

Yes, for those who are interested in facts as opposed to wingnut beliefs, the American Pregnancy Association notes the following about the morning-after pill:

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy in one of three ways:

  • First, it prevents eggs from being released from the ovaries.
  • Second, it thickens the cervical mucus preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.
  • Third, it changes the lining of the uterus preventing implantation.

(Also see this PBS link).

Not to mention what this Washington Post article also points out (bold text is my emphasis):

Providing women with easy access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B did not lead them to engage in more risky sexual behavior, a study of more than 2,000 California women has concluded.

The study did find that women given a supply to keep at home were more than 1 1/2 times as likely to use the drug after unprotected sex as those who had to pick it up at a clinic or pharmacy. The findings led the study authors to conclude that easy access to Plan B, also called the morning-after pill, could reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies while posing no apparent risk to women

The study contradicts a key claim made by opponents of easier access to Plan B...
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The medical profession does not consider emergency contraception to be an abortion pill such as RU-486, or Mifeprex, because Plan B works by preventing a pregnancy rather than ending one. But some critics of Plan B consider it an abortifacient.

So, let's see. Wingnuts "consider it" as equivalent to an abortion pill - so it must be (Doctors are BAAAAAD unless they are named Bill Frist). They "believe" the Plan B pill "causes" abortions, so it must be "true". And elephants routinely hang off the edges of cliffs using just their tail for support.

The petitioning pharmacists and the ACLJ bring disgrace to the term "pro-life". It's time to reveal them for who and what they really are. It's time to tell them to stop insulting our intelligence with their claim that this somehow is about great moral, ethical or "pro-life" issues. If you don't want to dispense drugs that actually kill human beings then stop being a pharmacist. Don't waste taxpayer money over frivolous lawsuits.

P.S.

I am not trying to say individuals cannot have principled stands about what they will and will not do. Far from it. But it is one thing to say you won't do something, and another thing altogether to claim bogus moral backing for those actions and top it off with a frivolous lawsuit.

Let me give you an analogy. I am a vegetarian. So much so that I have never eaten meat (intentionally) in my life. I don't even allow meat or meat products inside my house. I can easily claim this is on moral grounds, but I don't. Until I stop indulging in activities that completely avoid the killing of animals (e.g., I have a couple of pairs of leather shoes), I won't have that much moral ground to stand on. I am a vegetarian because I prefer to be and because I find no reason to eat meat. That does not give me a right to work in a restaurant and demand that the restaurant stop serving meat or that I cannot take or serve orders which include meat. If I own the restaurant, then I can make it a vegetarian restaurant, but if you are a pharmacist who will not dispense drugs that kill any human life, then you may not have many drugs left to sell. You can certainly open a Pharmacy that sells Kit-Kat and throat lozenges, but you don't have a right to waste taxpayer money over bogus claims.

UPDATE: ArchPundit has some noteworthy comments on the legality of Blagojevich's order. Although he thinks I am missing a point (perhaps I am), I'm arguing this based on the fact that the claim in the lawsuit is bogus and has nothing to do with "moral" values. ArchPundit is looking at the legality of a pharmacy's ability to carry or not carry certain types of medication. Go take a look.
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