Saturday, April 02, 2005

But we're worried about imposed theocracy
The Illinois state government is now requiring some pharmacists to act against their own morality—sort of. From CNN.com:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved an emergency rule Friday requiring pharmacies to fill birth control prescriptions quickly after a Chicago pharmacist refused to fill an order because of moral opposition to the drug[...]

Under the new rule, if a pharmacist does not fill the prescription because of a moral objection, another pharmacist must be available to fill it without delay.
If it weren't for that last bit, I'd be pretty upset. Doctors have an ethical obligation to treat patients—pharmacists, to my knowledge, do not. And birth control, while I think it should be available, is not a right or a medical necessity. (Yes, I know that some women need The Pill for medical reasons, but that's not birth control, now is it).

I think that anyone who becomes a pharmacist and is unwilling to dispense any particular kind of pill is an idiot. But still, the damage is done and he shouldn't be required to violate his morality to continue his job. AND, I think all of that can be set aside because, instead of filling the prescription they can refuse and allow another pharmacy to fill the order. But then, the "without delay" clause isn't exactly necessary, as even in the medical cases filling a prescription for The Pill isn't urgent.

9 comments:

Mr Croup said...

I expect that the "without delay" verbage is in place to cover RU-482 and other "morning after" remedies which are both birth control and very time dependant.

Blue Neponset said...

I agree with you on this.

I believe it is a political argument and not a religious one that the religious right wants to engage in.

IL has proposed a reasonable solution and the issue should go away. I don't believe it will though. Some profession will find something else to refuse to do and we will keep addressing this until it makes its way to court.

Blue Neponset said...

I agree with you on this.

I believe it is a political argument and not a religious one that the religious right wants to engage in.

IL has proposed a reasonable solution and the issue should go away. I don't believe it will though. Some profession will find something else to refuse to do and we will keep addressing this until it makes its way to court.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean to say that just because someone disagrees morally and ethically with part of his/her job responsibilities, s/he has no duty to perform them? So, for instance, a supervisor who disagrees with his employer's sexual harassment policy doesn't have to enforce it? Or, in my own case, since I'm a lefty who prepares transcripts of Congressional hearings, I can just leave out all remarks by Senator Santorum and Congressman DeLay? Or if I'm working in a courtroom (which I used to do), and I have a moral problem with the Judge's sentence, I can change the sentence in the official record to what I morally think it should be?

When you take a job, you're required to fulfill its responsibilities according to the dictates of the law and according to the rules set down by your higher-ups. I don't think there's any job anywhere in which the person who holds it always agrees with the way it should be performed.

The free market that you righties are so crazy about has created an at-will employment system. If your job requires you to fill birth control prescriptions, and you're morally opposed to filling birth control prescriptions, there's an easy answer: find another job.

DC Pol Sci from Daily Kos

RFTR said...

No, I do not mean to say that in any way.

But neither of the examples you gave are matters of life and death, and are therefore inconsistent comparisons.

And before you bring up the idea of the soldier who deserts because he doesn't want to kill anyone, pharmacology only recently got into that business. Anyone who enlists (we don't have a draft, remember) has a reasaonable expectation that he may one day have to use his weapon in anger—pharmacists used to believe they would only help people, and some are not prepared for these new duties.

I don't think they should have had to be prepared for what they (and I) believe is contributing to infanticide.

If your boss's sexual harassment policy is resulting in infanticide? Then I will come protest outside of your trial if he tries to persecute.

Furthermore while I think bosses should be able to compell their employees to do their job, short of a contract, clients should not, and disobeying your employer should never be a criminal offense.

RFTR said...

Sorry, let me rephrase that: it should never be a criminal offense unless your employer is the government (and then only in certain circumstances like the military).

Obviously, also excluded from this are things that are crimes anyway (criminal negligence, etc.).

roysol said...

Imho the state has no place telling private business how to operate. If they want to permit their pharamacist to choose which perscription to fill, it's ok with me. This is analagous to the debate over "merry Christmas" as dictated or prohibited by employers. It's their right to make that decision. If that were my employee I would fire him, also my right. I work in a machine shop that makes some munition parts, should my boss tolerate it if I refuse?

Richard said...

Doctors have an ethical obligation to treat patients—pharmacists, to my knowledge, do not. And birth control, while I think it should be available, is not a right or a medical necessity.

I don't think the issue is about life or death decisions or decisons which may or may not be medically necessary. In our medical system, physicians are licensed to prescribe restricted medications, and licensed pharmacists are part of the medical team under the direction of licensed physicians. Period.

The pharmacist is not licensed to determine who should or should not obtain a particular prescription. His function is to follow the instructions of the physician and perform his part in the medical team, not substitute his judgment for that of the licensed medical decision-maker. He does not have the training, the information, or the license permitting him to make those decisions, and his particular morality is not an overriding consideration.

If a pharmacist has moral qualms that do not permit him to fill prescriptions that offend his morality, his choice is to ignore his qualms or find other work. An effort to second-guess physicians is nothing more than incompetence on the part of the Pharmacist.

What would you say about an optometry technician who substituted glasses for contact lenses because contact lenses can damage some people's eyes? Or refused to fill a prescription for trifocals for religious reasons? What these so-called pharmacists are demanding is the equivalent.

RFTR said...

Incorrect.

Just becuase you don't want a guy to decide when to fill a prescription or not doesn't mean he's under an ethical obligation to follow your will.

Pharmacists are restricted from dispensing prescriptions as they see fit for a reason. But refusing to fill a prescription when it is not a medical necessity should be up to him.

Unless, of course, you intend to make all pharmacies carry every single drug that has ever been prescribed in this country (which they currently do not).

Now, it's my judgement that a pharmacist who restricts these things will clearly lose business because of it. Do we really need a law to compell him?