Monday, March 13, 2006

Pharmacy Counter Compromise

I have written at length on the issue of pharmacists taking a principled stand against dispensing prescriptions that go against their personal beliefs, so go here for the in-depth discussion.

But now that Minnesota is considering compromise legislation that would allow such pharmacists to keep practicing and theoretically not limit consumers' access to full pharmacy services, I feel bound to reprise the central point. I am all for courageous expressions of conscience, but if we are to exempt them from fulfilling their professional responsibilities, who’s next?

Doctors who deny treatment to patients using illicit drugs?

Police who let murderers go because they object to the death penalty?

Engineers at defense companies who don’t want to make bombs?

Bankers who will only write interest-free loans?

NFL quarterbacks who won’t work on the Sabbath?

Diplomats who decline to dissemble?

Marines who insist on embracing their inner Quaker?

Why legislate special protection for any such acts of conscience?

Those pharmacists who don’t want to perform a profession’s normal duties already have options: Quit in protest, take a job behind the cosmetics counter, or not enter the field in the first place. If a compromise gives them one more choice, let's make sure not to limit the patient's, which could happen in a one-pharmacy town served by a refusenik pharmacist.

Let protestors make their stand, but don't make others pay the consequences.


Blogger janinsanfran said...

A week ago I was in Minnesota and got to observe a DFL caucus meeting at which folks hashed through exactly this issue. They seemed to be pretty universally pro-choice, but, because they were people who were accustomed consult their consciences, they were also inclined to be tender hearted toward the pharmacists' consciences. After some discussion they got to where you are, but they had to go through the process. I wrote up the event here.

Many thanks for your earlier post on this -- I went back and read it all. It is great.

9:33 PM  

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