Thursday, June 09, 2005

In The History Of This Camp, That Was The Most Infamous, The Most Disgusting, The Most Revolting Display Of Hooliganism We Have Ever Had

By way of Oliver Willis, I found out about ArchPundit's lovely smackdown of the hilariously-named Pharmacists for Life. Short form: They're referring to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as "Slobodan" Blagojevich, intending to equate his upholding state law and allowing women to get legal, prescribed contraceptives with this guy's psychotic genocide. Now that's a moral thing to do.

For more background, I refer you to this superb article from Prevention Magazine a couple of years back. But here's the gist, from my view:

Contraceptives are legal.

Pharmacists are not doctors. They are pill-counters and retail clerks. (And, yes, I know that they actually do undergo extensive training. I have a couple of pharmacist friends. Don't split hairs.) They in no way inform the doctor-patient relationship.

If you're a pharmacist with a problem dispensing legally prescribed drugs, get the fuck out of the pharmacy business.

And get your goddamned God away from my friends' reproductive organs.

As a pharmacist, I've seen many a shady prescription cross my bench. And sometimes, it's easier to say, "We don't have it," than try to track down a doctor after hours to verify a narcotic. And I've refused to fill prescriptions that interact with eachother or the patient's other medications. I've even said, flat out, "The combination this doctor has prescibed will kill you." (Mind you, this was after I'd called the doc, and he refused to change a thing.)

Pharmacists are not machines. We are not there just to "count, pour, lick and stick." We are, in fact, the last bastions of public health. We are the ones people go to when they have that rash on their leg (that looks very much like Lyme disease), or that nagging infection that won't go away (diabetes?), or that persistent headache (high blood pressure?). We're the ones that you can talk to, person-to-person, at 7pm on a Saturday night. We're far more accessible than an ER. And better, we're free. Why? Because we care.

I don't personally agree with a pharmacist refusing to fill birth control pills. However, if one were to make such a decision, that fact should be posted in a prominent place--just as there are pharmacies which no longer sell cigarettes or liquor. If the "pro-lifers" are going to carry out their campaign, let the public decide that, maybe, the pharmacy down the block would better suit their needs. Let the owner/manager decide that no, s/he needs the business, and the Conscientious Objecter should be fired (yes, "bad for business" is a valid reason). Just as Massachusetts pharmacies now state they "no longer stock" Oxycontin. (They usually do, but that's another story.) It's up to the pharmacy and the pharmacist. And frankly, it's nothing new: there have always been a few fanatics out there who won't 'abet a sin.'

Now, there are federal rules about pharmacies that are the only one for 50 miles, and what they must supply. But really, that's a small percentage nationwide. Let's face it, if you don't like CVS, you walk a block or two to Walgreen's or Rite Aid or Eckerd's or Brooks. Even most small towns sport more than one pharmacy. So long as they're up-front, I don't see a problem--especially as I suspect the PFL is really quite tiny. Certainly, I'd never heard of it.

But you can't reduce a pharmacist to a dispensing machine. That's like saying any five-year-old is a concert musician, so long as you've taught them to read music.
An excellent point of view, Lisa, for which I thank you. Please understand that I understand there is a lot to any job in the medical profession. The problem here, as it has always been, is the ones who decide that their morality is better than that of the patient... or the prescribing doctor.

There is another, even more horrific consideration. What of those faiths which believe, for instance, that women should suffer? Do they have the right to refuse to dole out pain medication?

You are selecting isolated incidents -- which I do not mean to invalidate -- while I am speaking of a very deliberate religious/political movement. And, sadly, it is growing all the time.
The connector in there that bothers me the most (and hopefully I'm misinformed and about to be posted at), is that as Tom said, this is a deliberate movement by *individuals* to control other people's behavior. I have never heard about these pharmacists getting the official policies changed of their workplaces, like getting them to put up prominent signs about what they won't do. I considered working at what was an office where one of my main duties would have been being involved with abortions. I wasn't sure about it until I decided that if I believed that something was necessary I couldn't be above getting my hands dirty. It would have been part of why I was HIRED. If these pharmacists get their bosses to change the rules that's one things, but if you don't want your hands dirty and a job requires it, either don't take it, or don't vigilanty other peoples' businesses and morality.
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