Pharmatists right to choose

I was reading an article about pharmacists and dispensing birth-control or abortifacients.  The arguments continue to amaze me.  It’s best summed up by one line in the article:

“The discussion often comes down to one of rights: the right of pharmacists not to do something that violates their consciences versus the right of patients to obtain legally prescribed medications.”

Since when is “obtaining legally prescribed medications” a right?  I’m pretty darned sure that if a person shows up at a pharmacy without money their “right” to that medication will be refused.  In other words, there is no right to medical treatment in this country.

It seems to me that yet again the issue is that the debate is being held in the wrong arena.  If I go to an Indian resturant and they “refuse” to serve me a steak, is my “right” to eat beef being violated?  No, it isn’t.  If I want a steak, I need to go somewhere else.  However, it is well within my rights to refuse to eat there and/or put pressure on the company/resturant to sell steaks.

I believe the same scenario applies to the medical industry as a whole.

I’ve got no problem (from a legal/governmental perspective) with Planned Parenthood protesting Target for allowing their pharamists to exercise their freedom of conscience by not dispensing plan-B.  I’ve also got no problem with Walmart firing a pharacist who exercises their freedom of conscience just as I’ve got no problem with Cattlemans Steak House firing an Indian chef who refuses to cook a steak.

But I DO have a problem with the government forcing people to do things they do not want to do, including pharmacists who would otherwise be able to keep their jobs.

So, to recap: If you want a steak, don’t go to an Indian resturant. If you want fried dog for dinner, you may have to drive a while to find a place that will serve it to you.  If you want your pharmacist to give you what he considers to be immoral prescriptions, go find a new pharmacist.  If there aren’t any pharmacists who will fill your prescription in the area, do what any fried dog lover would do: move/go somewhere where you can.

Update (after comment #8): My brother has posted on the subject.  The key quote that shows his lack of consistency: “I believe that no one should ever force their morals onto someone else, and that includes me forcing my morals onto Pharmacists, but honestly, if they don’t like the rules of being a pharmacist, they can get another  job for all I care.”

So, no forcing morals on Pharmacists… except they should do what you say or get a new career?

12 Responses to “Pharmatists right to choose”

  1. Ken's Brother Says:

    See Ken, I disagree, I feel that a profession such as pharmacist should be exempt of freedom of choice. It’s a-ok to have your morals all day long, but to force your morals upon someone else is completely unacceptable. I feel that a pharmacist who refuses to assist a client acquire medicine because of their moral beliefs should not only be fired, but stripped of their government issued license.

    It’s not the Pharmacist’s job to make decisions for the patient’s health (physical or moral), that’s the doctors job.

  2. Ken Crawford Says:

    It’s a complete fallacy to say that not filling a prescription is “forcing morals” on anyone. Is a doctor who refuses to perform abortions “forcing morals” on those who wish to have them? Either way you answer that question, the pharmacist shouldn’t have to fill prescriptions they don’t want to. If you answer yes, then why is it ONLY doctors get to “force” moral decisions on their patents. Pharmacists are licensed medical professionals too. If you answer no, then why is a pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription isn’t doing any more forcing than the doctor.

    If a patient wants a service that any medical professional is unwilling to perform, they just have to go find one who does. It’s that simple. There’s no “forcing morals” involved.

    Any way you cut it there is no excuse for the government forcing a group to provide a service they find immoral. In fact, I leave you with this question: name another profession where the government forces them to do something they consider immoral or loose their license?

  3. Ken's Brother Says:

    Look, here’s the difference between a pharmacist and a doctor. A doctor actually performs a service. He looks at the problem, analyzes it, diagnoses it, and then does something about it.
    A pharmacist is nothing more than a fancy fast food cashier, except higher paid, and slower. You take an order to them, they read it, process a good and you pay for it. If they don’t have in stock what you’re asking for, it’s their job to get it.
    If they don’t want to do that, regardless of what you’re ordering, their asses should be fired like an 18 year old at McDonalds who doesn’t want to serve you beef for religious reasons.

    And before you “rip me a new one” for not understanding what a pharmacist does and doesn’t do, I will admit, I don’t know every little thing they do. I just observe what I see them doing when I’ve taken an order to them.

    But here’s the real answer to your “question” Ken. All the government is trying to do is say “look guys, if someone brings you a perscription, fill it. If you don’t have it in stock, order it and then fill it.”

    And as for the pharmacist’s rights, they don’t have to be a pharmacist, I’m sure there is an opening at their local Mickey D’s…

  4. Ken Crawford Says:

    I’ll take your not coming up with another profession that the government forces to do something they find immoral as an admission that there aren’t any.

    And yeah, I’m going to rip you a new one for your complete misunderstanding of the level of professionalism required to be a pharmacist. And before you rebutt the case I’m about to make, remember that you’re stomping on the grave of your dead grandfather.

    Pharmacists are responsible for understanding drug interactions and it is primarily their responsibility to make sure you don’t take a combination of drugs that would be harmful. As such they are VERY trained about drug interactions and must know a far more diverse set of drugs than most doctors know (because of doctor specialization). It is THEIR JOB to decide when a prescription may be harmful to you and they can be held liable and lose their license if they don’t.

    Pharmacists are about equivalent to nurses in their level of training. They are indeed medical professionals and it is insulting to them to call them medication “fast food” dispensers just as it is insulting to tell a nurse they are a glorified diaper changer.

    But really, that’s not even relevant. Because even if they were gloried coke machines, I just don’t get why you’re holding pharmacists to a different standard than every job out there. The government doesn’t tell fast food workers that they have to serve hamburgers. McDonalds does. And as I said in my original post, I have no problem with Walmart telling their pharmacists that they’ll be fired if they refuse to fill prescriptions for moral reasons. But if the owner of the pharmacy doesn’t mind (Target), why should the goverment interfere any more than if a burger shop didn’t care if they had a worker who refused to serve their chicken products? What you’re saying is equivalent to telling chefs, “look guys, if someone comes in and orders something, make it. If you don’t have it, get it and prepare it for them.”

    The reality is that our country just doesn’t work that way. As individuals, we’re free “to refuse service to anyone” as well as to not sell whatever we feel like. Any government action to interfere with that would be a large blow to our freedoms as citizens.

  5. Ken's Brother Says:

    Sigh Ken, Grandpa Joe wasn’t *exactly* the model moralistic pharmacist that all should look up to now was he? I thought you’d be smarter than to walk into that…
    What I’m saying about pharmacist’s is simple. They’re not the doctor. Their job is to say this is harmful to you, and only physically harmful. I really could give a shit about their moral judgement about what people are taking. There are certain jobs where one’s morals are relevant, and those jobs are limited to the cloth.

    I know that’ll piss you off Ken, but at the end of the day it’s about doing your job versus being a pompous jackass. And frankly that guy in the article… well I’ll let you draw your own conclusions to my feelings to him. I mean really what’s next Ken, I can’t give this medication to a baby being raised by lesbians, because frankly it’s against my morals to allow lesbians to raise babies because they’re allowing the kids to be raised in a house of sin. Because that’s the exact same thing. They’re preventing legally prescribed medication to a patient because of something that it’s not their job to decide.

    It’s completely idiotic for you to say that forcing a Pharmacist to fulfill a prescription is similar to forcing a chef to make a steak. It’s completely different. The chef’s job isn’t to decide whether or not that steak is healthy for the patron, it’s to cook the damn steak. The chef also should know better than to work at the place that’ll force him to serve steak.

    If your job is to do something, you do it. It’s that simple. I’m sorry to say it, but in this instance, religion has nothing to do with it.

  6. Ken Crawford Says:

    Just because Grandpa Joe was a man with his vices doesn’t mean that his profession is without merit. The reality is he worked hard to get the education to enter a good paying profession. A profession that paid well and has dignity. The fact that he later flushed it down the toilet is not relevant. Ask Mom and you’ll find that one of the few things she’s proud of her father about was his profession.

    But back to the original point, what part of “we live in a free society” don’t you get? The more you talk about the chef the more it becomes obvious how bad your thinking is. Let’s see, we’ll go at the paragraph fisk style:

    “The chef’s job isn’t to decide whether or not that steak is healthy for the patron, it’s to cook the damn steak.”

    So you ARE saying that a chef has no right to pick what kind of food he wants to cook…

    “The chef also should know better than to work at the place that’ll force him to serve steak.”

    And yet again you re-enforce my point. I’ve got no problem with a company saying that they won’t hire/will fire a pharmacist who won’t fill certain presciptions. But what you’re asking for is not that. You’re asking for “all chefs MUST COOK STEAKS”. It doesn’t matter if it is a company that would prefer not to cook steaks or at least would allow a particular chef not to cook steaks. Nope, that’s not good enough for you. You want the government to force all chefs to cook steaks when ordered.

    See, by your logic, a pharmacist can’t go find another employer who will cater to their needs because the requirement isn’t by the employer, it’s by the government.

    And for what? I think that is the best question here. What is so noble that we must intrude upon people’s freedoms? I’ve said before that our freedoms can be limited when necessary. Forcing people to serve black people, although technically an infringement of our liberties, is noble enough to make that intrusion.

    But no, it’s not like this actually hurts anyone other than a minor inconvenience of having to find another pharmacist who will fill their prescription. For 99.9% of people this means just going to the next counter in the same pharmacy and for 99.9% of the rest it means driving a block or two to the next pharmacy.

    And we’re willing to spit on freedom for that?

    And here’s why some people are willing to do that: they’re fighting a battle to live in a society where it is illegal to question the morals of another person. They HATE the idea that another person can tell them: “This is immoral and I will have no part of it.”  That’s what this is really about.  Just as limiting freedoms by forcing southern bigots to serve black people was an action by our society to ensure we were a society that didn’t tolerate racism (a good thing), this is part of an attempt to say we don’t allow people to express their religion/morals (and that’s one short step away from saying we don’t allow people to have religion).

    Sorry Brian, religion has EVERYTHING to do with it…. and both sides know it.

  7. Ken's Brother Says:

    Ken, we live in a society that is free, free from oppression.

    Saying I’m sorry I won’t give you your legally obtained medication because I’m a bigot. Being a moral crusader is a form of bigotry Ken.

  8. Ken Crawford Says:

    I guess depending on your viewpoint you can call religious conviction bigotry. As defined by webster a bigot is:

    “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

    The key word here is of course “intolerant”. What defines intolerant? If you’re going to take “intolerant” to mean that you’re willing to say that you disagree with their choices, then yeah being a “moral crusader” is a form of bigotry. However, based on that definition, not only is it part of our freedoms to be a bigot, religious bigotry (again based on the definition) is explicitely PROTECTED under our constitution.

    Finally I fail to see how refusing to do business with someone on the moral grounds of the business proposed is “oppression”.

  9. Ken's Brother Says:

    Following your definition of a bigot, you proved my case exactly.
    A morally religious people who is strongly parital to their own group and is intolerant to those who differ.
    IE you’re unwilling to allow those who have idea’s (and morals) different from your own to exist, and to have those idea’s, you’re being a bigot.

    How would you feel if the next time you went into a pharmacy to get any old medication, and the pharmacist declined by saying “I’m sorry I can’t give you that or provide you with information on where to obtain it because I’m a righteous jackass”? Simple, you’d feel oppressed and feel the guy was being a bigot.

    By refusing to allow someone with a legally prescribed prescription their right to get their legally prescribed medication because of your moral righteness, you’re being intolerant to those who differ from you, and you’re being a bigot.

  10. Ken Crawford Says:

    The fact that you didn’t see the sarcasm in the ridiculously strict definition of intolerant (and as a result bigot) is exactly what is lacking in your argument.

    People don’t have the right not to be offended. People don’t have a right to force others to participate in their actions. That’s what you’re apparently missing. Or at least your missing that not actively participating in someone elses activities is oppressing them or being intolerant.

    But since it doesn’t seem to be clear to you what words mean, I’ll have to go get another definition for you. Intolerant obviously derives from tolerate and its defintion is:

    “To endure without repugnance; put up with”

    Notice there is nothing in that definition that require support or participation in. No to tolerate means that you don’t explicitely prevent a person from doing something. You don’t have to be happy about it. You don’t have to participate. In fact, by the word’s very nature, you can’t be intolerant by NOT doing something. To NOT tolerate, you have to actively prevent. As such as pharmacist who doesn’t fill a prescription is not being intolerant. A pharmacist who was intolerant would not only not fill the prescription but would actively prevent the person from getting it filled elsewhere.

    And to answer your question, if a pharmacist told me they wouldn’t fill my prescription on moral grounds, of course I’d feel a little hurt and I’d definitely be indignant. I’d tell him “Well I disagree and I’ll be doing my pharmacy business with someone else from now on.”

    But I wouldn’t be looking to put him out of business if others still went there. I had no problem with the portion of your blog post on the subject where you said you won’t do business with a pharmacy who allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions. That’s fine and it’s your right. I won’t call you a “pharmacist bigot” for refusing to do business with them. No, you’re tolerating them, you’re just not participating. However, if you propose legislation that requires all pharmacists to violate their conscience THAT is being intolerant. THAT is saying you refuse to tolerate their actions. THAT is being a “pharmacist bigot”.

    Your consistently buying into excessive “rights” for everyone is ridiculous. People do not have a “right” to legally prescribed medications. Just show up at the pharmacy without any money and you’ll see how far that “right” extends. People do not have a right to force others to do business with them. Just show up at a donut shop without a shirt or shoes to see how far that “right” extends.

    Things just don’t work that way in a free society.

    Finally, what bugs me most about this argument is that people seem to have turned their understanding of freedom upside down. Laws PREVENT people from doing things, they don’t FORCE people to do things. Of course their are exceptions (taxes being the most notable) but for the most part it is true. Freedom at it’s core is the ability to do what you want. Sometimes freedoms must be limited for the common good and not to violate other’s freedoms. But by its very nature that statement suggests that the limitations should be preventative in nature. Writing laws that switch to being forcible in nature is a massive change and one that people don’t seem to appreciate. The switch from can’t laws to must laws is a huge blow to our freedoms.

  11. Ken's Brother Says:

    See Ken, that’s where you and I differ. I feel that if a pharmist refuses to fill a legally obtained prescription, he’s being intolerant. Especially if he pulls the “I’m sorry I can’t help you, and I can’t refer you to anyone who can” line.

    Honestly Ken, I personally feel that if this debate was raging over say something like pharmacists refusing to fulfill prescriptions for hair growth because morally they felt our society was too superficial, you’d be up in arms (and I’m in no way arguing that you’re going bald, we all know I’m more bald than you). Because the particular medication in question is something you’re morally against you have to support it.

    I know you’ll argue that no sane Pharmacist would deny someone hair growth formula, but honestly Ken, where do we draw the line. Either we alone all Pharmacist’s the moral right to have whatever moral crusade they want, or we don’t. It’s a slippery slope and frankly I’d like to nip it in the bud right now.

  12. Ken Crawford Says:

    Apparently you really don’t appreciate the idea of an ideology. Yes, I would support a pharmacist’s right to refuse to give out hair growth medication. You’re right, I’d think he was a flaming idiot, but I still support his freedoms. Just like as much as I argue against devil worshippers and think they’re downright evil (literally), I support their right to practice their religion (sans violence and the such).

    Freedom is freedom. No line needs to be drawn limiting freedom in this case because nobody is hurting anyone else. This is not oppressing or being intolerant. If you don’t like it, go find another pharmacist.

    And you’ve got it completely backwards as to why this is an issue right now. Pharmacists have had this right for as long as they’ve existed. The only reason it is an issue now is because NARAL and other immoral organizations want to force their immorality on others. So yes, you’re right that this is an issue because it is centereing on one of the day’s most controversial medications but you’re wrong on who’s provoking the situation. Remember that it is legal right now for a pharmacist to refuse service. It’s the other side that is trying to get legislation passed to change it.