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23 April 2004 @ 10:30 am
Moral objection – when is it justified?  
It can be a conundrum – where should the line be drawn between personal beliefs and professional obligation?

When I first saw this story about a CVS pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription for birth control pills on religious grounds I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke, albeit a bad one. Sadly, that isn’t the case.

My next response was one of stunned outrage. This sort of thing still happens in our country?? *snort*

While I won’t say that it’s a ‘right’ per se, contraception *is* a basic medical treatment for women who’s availability should not be dependant upon the dispensing individual’s personal ideology. The proper execution of a pharmacist’s job in no way involves ‘I don’t believe in birth control’. This applies to any other sort of treatment, for that matter. If the individual’s physician selects a course of treatment, it’s the professional obligation of the pharmacist to fill those prescriptions. While it is also their responsibility to note if there are any possible drug interactions or other problems, those sorts of situations address the safety and well being of the patient. Not their moral stance.

I will also note that while in the vast majority of cases birth control pills are prescribed for contraceptive purposes, there are also other medical conditions where they are the treatment of choice. Endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, etc. What if that had been the case with the woman in Texas? By responding on a personal instead of professional basis, that pharmacist was not only being extremely unprofessional but could have been putting that patient at risk medically.

I would have been extremely unhappy if I had been involved in such an incident, and can guarantee that I would have sat at that pharmacy until I had received my medication. I would undoubtedly have initially been polite, but can see where I would have ended up being very emphatic (supr sekret code for ‘shouting’ ;) ) about the situation and demanded at the very least to speak with someone at corporate immediately. I also would have been quite happy to inform the media about the situation as it was occurring. Not to mention reporting her to the state board and requesting that her license be suspended.

Upon further research I discovered that initially CVS *supported* this travesty by saying that that refusing to fill prescriptions based on personal beliefs was allowed according to CVS standards. !!! No surprise that they backpedaled fiercely and shortly stated that the pharmacist had not, in fact, followed company policy after all. I imagine that they are continuing to face a firestorm for this situation and I will be interested to see what their response and resolution is.

I think when one’s personal beliefs are in conflict with one’s professional obligations to the extent that they cannot fulfill said obligations then they just need to find a more suitable line of work, hmmm?

-the redhead-
Musings from the CZ unitcz_unit on April 23rd, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
This is not the first time I have seen this; in other times the pharmacist was simlpy canned for not following company policy and making the company "look bad".

However, I have to think about this for awhile: If the pharmacy was owned by an individual (as some are), would they have the right to decide what was sold and what was not? Or are they mindless hands of Doctors who perscribe medicine. Gets to the heart of why-do-we-have-pharmacies anyway.

It is to note that Wal-Mart "bans" the sale of many types of merchandise on "moral" grounds.

Regardless, company policy that allows anyone in the company to do whatever they want based on their "values" is little more than allowing a ship-load of loose cannons to roll around the ship. Things at least have to be organized, and companies that are too restrictive tend to go out of business (big reason there are no successful X-tan movies aside from Passion and why BattleField Earth sucked rocks)

paradoxymoronparadoxymoron on April 23rd, 2004 10:34 am (UTC)
there's a bill in michigan that states, among other things, that medical institutions can refuse service to gay people. I really hope it doesn't make it to law.
Slut Bamwalla, aka Zinglebert Slaptiback: In a Moodslutbamwalla on April 26th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)
As odd as it may sound for a bisexual man, I *do* hope it becomes law.

The reason is, until it becomes a law, it cannot be enforced. Until it is enforced, it cannot be challenged. Until it is challenged, it cannot be repealed. Until it is repealed, it cannot be appealed to the Supreme Court. Until it is appealed to the Supreme Court, it cannot be upheld as unconstitutional. Until it is upheld as unconstitutional, other brainless legislators in other states can attempt to pass the same legislation under more covert wording and circumstances.

Let them pass the thing, and it will damn forever all attempts at ever making anything like it again.

Vote it down, and it will pop up again and again until someone *does* pass it because it's attached to some Very Important Bill that legislators would doom their political career by not voting for it.

Just my NSHO, of course. I'm also a self-proclaimed asshole, so that may account for some of the acidity, too. ^_^
paradoxymoronparadoxymoron on April 26th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC)
damn if you don't have twistedly accurate logic.
And it's a whole lot more respectable than stealing all of the children of the people voting "yes" for this bill and making them immoral pagan/hindu/muslim bicurious transsexuals. Cuz, that might make them think twice about voting yes.
My. I should really reign in this venom.
Christopher Scottkorwyn on April 26th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC)
Living in a civil society
Consider that we have the right to sue, and an large industry to use the courts rather than simply buringin down the business.

As was observed, stupid (ok stoopid) decisions and laws have to be there to be challenged.