Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More on Being Pro-Pharmacist-Choice

Our very own Professor Jay weighs in today against the freedom of pharmacists to not dispense medications they find morally objectionable.

We've had this one out on this blog before. And I like Professor Jay, who's been good enough to participate in our events in the past. But at the risk of my grade next quarter in Free Expression (kidding), I think a rebuttal is in order.

Professor Jay argues that the administrative board responsible for such things didn't have the authority to issue that kind of regulation because of I-120, an initiative that had little or nothing to do with contraception - it was an abortion bill. Frankly, I think the characterization of I-120 in the article is misleading. The only mention of contraception in I-120 is a policy statement saying people should be allowed to have access to it, which, of course, they still do. Here's the actual initiative as enacted. It's codified in RCW Chapter 9.02.

Interestingly enough, I-120 specifically envisioned the freedom of people to not engage in what they feel as immoral actions:

No person or private medical facility may be required by law or contract in any circumstances to participate in the performance of an abortion if such person or private medical facility objects to so doing. No person may be discriminated against in employment or professional privileges because of the person's participation or refusal to participate in the termination of a pregnancy.
RCW 9.02.150. If "monopoly" is defined as the entire group of private businesses that fall under medical regulations, private medical facilities could be considered at least as much of a "monopoly" as Professor Jay considers pharmacies in his article. But they are still allowed to listen to their conscience and limit their services accordingly under the law, which is as it should be.

His argument is this:

Discrimination occurs when a neutral regulation is adopted with the intent of singling out a specific practice for adverse consequences. The proposed rule, which has grown out of a desire to deny women access to Plan B, clearly discriminates against women under I-120.

This is a completely unfair characterization. There are certainly some people who would like to ban Plan B. But the desire of the Board was to find a balance between allowing businessmen to act according to their principles while allowing those who wish to use Plan B the ability to get it. The desire is to allow pharmacists to operate their business with freedom and conscience. Plan B is still widely available, and there is nothing to suggest that a woman who wants it can't get it within 24 hours. Despite this lack of evidence or support, Professor Jay says:

The Legislature certainly could enact such a misconceived privilege but it will first have to listen to the growing number of women turned away by pharmacists who think they are laws unto themselves.

I would like to hear from one single woman forced to have a baby because she could not get Plan B in time because of this new regulation. Anywhere. Even Professor Jay doesn't go that far - he only says they are being turned away. He doesn't say whether they go to the next pharmacy a block away that still does offer the emergency contraception, an omission that I think matters greatly.

Right now, pro-choice people can get all the Plan B they want in a timely fashion. Pharmacies are on practically every block and in almost every grocery store. There are 816 in the Seattle area alone. Pharmacists who don't think it's morally right can sleep at night without having to choose between their job and their conscience. Ones who don't have a problem with it get more business. Everyone wins.

The only reason to oppose this common sense compromise is to force people to conform with the pro-choice agenda - an irony if there ever was one.

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