Pharyngula

Pope Ratzi confirms the bankruptcy of religion for me once again.

Benedict told a gathering of Catholic pharmacists that conscientious objection was a right that must be recognized by the pharmaceutical profession.

“Pharmacists must seek to raise people’s awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role,” Benedict said.

Benedict said conscientious objector status would “enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.”

There is an interesting moral argument against enablng euthanasia, I think, but it doesn’t apply here: pharmacists, as responsible and informed as they are, are not doctors, and are expected to dispense drugs as the doctor requests. It’s fair that a pharmacist would warn the client (“This drug can kill you”) or verify the prescription (“This combination of drugs can have risky effects—I’m going to call your doctor and make sure this is what she wants”), but this whole business of pharmacists refusing to do their job because of religious scruples is not tolerable.

The pope, being a deranged medieval nutcase at heart, of course carries his instructions far beyond the degree that should be allowed.

“We cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person’s life,” he said.

>

Right. Let’s shut down the selling of birth control at Catholic pharmacies, and let’s have Muslim bagboys shut down the sale of alcohol at stores (and the Muslim cabbies can end the transport of alcohol), and let’s turn every flaky religious nut into a vigilante for his own weird personal beliefs, enjoined to enforce them on every other person in his neighborhood, whether they share his dogma or not.

This is simply a religious injunction to be intolerant, a denial of the plain fact that many non-Catholics (and, of course, even many Catholics) do not obey papal rules. But then, that’s what religion teaches: to be intolerant and to deny reality.

Comments

  1. #1 RickD
    October 30, 2007

    If the Pope wanted to reduce the usage of birth control pills, he could always convince people of its immorality.

    What? Persuasion by argument isn’t part of religion any more? He’s not transparently an authoritarian, is he?

    A good litmus test: people who try to stop perceived social problems by attacking the supply and not the demand of some product tend to be authoritarians.

  2. #2 Hank Fox
    October 30, 2007

    I’m picturing devout “conscientious objectors” in influential positions at telecom companies, deciding to shut down your net access because they find your browsing habits deeply troubling.

  3. #3 LM
    October 30, 2007

    Wait, so is he objecting to the regular ol’ Pill? Because most birth control (estrogen and progesterone based) inhibits the release of an egg. They don’t inhibit implantation, because there is nothing to implant! No egg = no risk of pregnancy.

    I think the IUD *does* change something in the uterine lining that makes it resistant to implantation, but you can’t get one of those from a pharmacist…

  4. #4 J-Dog
    October 30, 2007

    This is exactly what you would expect from a guy that performs public rituals with a phallus on his head. What a dick head.

  5. #5 Richard Harris
    October 30, 2007

    Okay, so suppose some religiot decides to refuse to serve me with something that his firm sells. I complain to the firm. Then they sack the religiot, eh?

    Not necessarily – it depends upon the firm’s policies, & on their staff’s employment contracts. It also depends upon whether or not the firm’s legal advice (if any) suggests that the employee can sue for wrongful dismissal.

    What about my rights? It would be difficult & expensive for me to mount a legal challenge. So, by default, the crazies are left running the asylum!

    Any lawyers here?

  6. #6 AnthonyK
    October 30, 2007

    For a truly chilling story of when “right to life” legistlation is taken to the ultimate, read this story about the new Nicaraguan anti-abortion law:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2185811,00.html
    This makes me feel sick – and even the Pope seems a little queasy about it.
    Truly, religious people are much more concerned with the non-existent than with everday reality.

  7. #7 me
    October 30, 2007

    1. Cancer cells are alive.
    2. Anticancer drugs kill cancer cells.
    3. Catholic pharmacists should not dispense anticancer drugs.

  8. #8 efp
    October 30, 2007

    Wait, so is he objecting to the regular ol’ Pill?

    If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate…

  9. #9 Watt de Fawke
    October 30, 2007

    If Joey Rats ever has a medical emergency, I hope the ambulance crew will be conscientious objectors and will insist that only prayer can heal. Just strap him to the gurney and pray for him, praying until he’s pronounced.

  10. #10 Bill C.
    October 30, 2007

    You know though it is the overreach of laws supposedly designed to promote tolerance that now keep owners of pharmacies from judtly firing pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraception, and doing other things also known as their job. If we just lived without these legal protections for religions then Catholic pharmacists would quickly be fired or if they were proprietors they would go out of business. It is the protections we have for their beliefs that allow them to be imposed.

  11. #11 MartinM
    October 30, 2007

    Benedict said conscientious objector status would “enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.”

    There’s already an excellent way to avoid supplying products used for abortion. It’s called not taking a job which involves the supply of products used for abortion.

  12. #12 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    “If Joey Rats ever has a medical emergency, I hope the ambulance crew will be conscientious objectors and will insist that only prayer can heal. Just strap him to the gurney and pray for him, praying until he’s pronounced.”

    Or even better, decide that they object on grounds of conscience to treating an anti-gay bigot. I imagine the Pope would be only to happy to support their position as he lay dying.

  13. #13 Stephen Wells
    October 30, 2007

    Isn’t the logical end point of this for a pharmacist to join the Christian Scientists and refuse to dispense _anything_?

  14. #14 Moses
    October 30, 2007

    [1] Not necessarily – it depends upon the firm’s policies, & on their staff’s employment contracts. It also depends upon whether or not the firm’s legal advice (if any) suggests that the employee can sue for wrongful dismissal.

    [2] What about my rights? It would be difficult & expensive for me to mount a legal challenge. So, by default, the crazies are left running the asylum!

    Any lawyers here?

    Posted by: Richard Harris | October 30, 2007 8:54 AM

    Not a lawyer, but we deal with these things in my profession:

    1. Virtually all non-union employees are “at will” employees and they can be fired “at will” without recourse.

    2. Welcome to the reality of the unregulated market place.

  15. #15 Louis
    October 30, 2007

    I love the “It’s their choice and their conscience” argument.

    I have had the opportunity to work for the security services and the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, here in the UK. I didn’t.

    Although I applied for the jobs, when I went to the interviews and found out what the job entailed (or more precisely, what the things I would be working on were to be used for) I turned the jobs down. I could not in good conscience, based on ethical principles I have decided I wish to adhere to as far as I can, accept those jobs.

    THAT is the choice and act of conscience these people face. If you are trained a pharmacist and have consciencious objections to dispensing contraception or the “morning after pill”, or if you are a retail clerk and you don’t wish to sell alcohol: FIND A DIFFERENT JOB. Your choice to exercise your conscience does not extend to you exercising your conscience over me. You made the choice, you live with it.

    That said, in large organisations it is perfectly possible to find jobs for people who object to certain acts on any basis. In a supermarket you don’t have to sell alcohol, a colleague can do it for you, sure it’s a pain but it can easily be accomplished. You don’t have to stack alcohol on the shelves, you can stack bacon…no perhaps not…how about crackers. I think a little give and take is no big deal. However, in small companies, or one on one situations like a taxi driver or a local pharmacy you do the job in front of you or you simply do not do the job.

    Don’t want to carry people with alcohol? Don’t become a taxi driver, or at least inform people when they phone you so that they are not inconvenienced. If you’re the only cab in a deserted place and your possible passengers have a bottle of hooch with them, then tough! Sorry but your ability to do the job should not be impaired by your conscience, if your job and your conscience clash, do a different job. It’s not like there’s a lack of employment opportunities in the world. No jobs local to you? MOVE! We all have to do it.

    I’m a firm supporter of people’s right to choose. I never said those choices would be easy ones.

    Louis

  16. #16 Moses
    October 30, 2007

    Whoops – messed up those tags in #14 big-time.

  17. #17 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    “1. Virtually all non-union employees are “at will” employees and they can be fired “at will” without recourse.”

    Wrong, at least within the EU.

  18. #18 IanR
    October 30, 2007

    Well, we should probably take his “conscientious objector” comment at face value. If you believe that for religious reasons you should not dispense birth control, and you are conscripted and forced to distribute pharmaceuticals that you believe should not be administered, then I think you should have the right to object. Like when you are instructed to drug prisoners illegally.

    So yes, anyone who was forced to go to pharmacy school, and was forced to take a job dispensing drugs should have the right to refuse to dispense drugs, and should instead have the option of being reassigned to a job mopping the floors.

  19. #19 Luis
    October 30, 2007

    Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on various Fridays leading up to Easter. If the Pope has a minimum of consistency, he should require Catholic butcher shops to close down on Easter. Deep down, though, I know this is not going to happen.

  20. #20 Midwestern Gent
    October 30, 2007

    Richard Harris — One lawyer checking in! In the pharmacist context, one could argue that because pharmacists are granted a government license (essentially, a government-sanctioned monopoly) to dispense medication, they are obligated to fill any lawful prescription brought in by a member of the public. In First Amendment terms, this amounts to a “neutral law of general applicability” that only incidentally burdens their claimed religious rights, so they should not be exempted from application of the law.

  21. #21 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Wait, so is he objecting to the regular ol’ Pill?

    To everything. Everything except the calendar method.

    Though he probably knows that in this case he was talking about the morning-after pill… I hope.

  22. #22 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Wait, so is he objecting to the regular ol’ Pill?

    To everything. Everything except the calendar method.

    Though he probably knows that in this case he was talking about the morning-after pill… I hope.

  23. #23 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    “I’m a firm supporter of people’s right to choose. I never said those choices would be easy ones.”

    This is a very good point. It seems that many who want to be able to opt out of performing certain tasks, or complying with certain requirements want to be able to do so without facing any consequences as the result of their decisions.

  24. #24 Divalent
    October 30, 2007

    “1. Virtually all non-union employees are “at will” employees and they can be fired “at will” without recourse. ”

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. An employer can fire someone for any reason except those prohibited by law or by contract. You can’t fire someone because you don’t like the color of their skin, but you can fire them if you don’t like the color of their socks (unless the employment contract states, or the employees were told, that they could wear any color socks they like).

    The issue is whether an employee’s refusal to dispense a particular drug for religious reasons is protected. It’s somewhat of a fuzzy area right now.

  25. #25 SeanH
    October 30, 2007

    Ridiculous. Christian Scientists might as well get on the bandwagon, become ER doctors, and refuse to treat accident victims with anything other than prayer.

  26. #26 Peter Barber
    October 30, 2007

    me said:

    1. Cancer cells are alive.
    2. Anticancer drugs kill cancer cells.
    3. Catholic pharmacists should not dispense anticancer drugs.

    Good point. And just when you’ve got them confused, throw in a hydatidiform mole or teratoma and watch their heads explode. After all, they’re derived from embryonic tissue and are therefore gifts from God!

  27. #27 Ian Gould
    October 30, 2007

    So do Hindu pharmacists have a right of conscientious objection to refuse to supply any pharmaceuticals derived from cattle or cattle products?

  28. #28 carovee
    October 30, 2007

    The thing that bugs me is that sacrifice is supposed to be a major theme in Catholicism. Yet when it comes to birth control, doctors and pharmacists are never asked to sacrifice anything for their faith, like quitting and finding another profession. Instead they are only asked to force others, regardless of belief, to make the sacrifice for their own faith. It’s far too easy to burden others. Leaving your job would be a real statement of faith.

    I say, if you can’t do your whole job, then you should get out of the way.

  29. #29 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    Can I just ask that is people are talking about what is legal or not legal they make it clear what jurisdiction they are talking about ?

    Employment rights within the EU seem to be much greater than they are within the US. For example in the EU there are limited grounds for firing someone, such as incompetence or gross misconduct. You cannot just fire someone because you no longer wish to employ them unless you can 1) show that there is no longer any need for someone to do that job, and 2) pay compensation based on the length of service.

    It could be possible for someone to be fired for wearing socks that are not a colour permitted within the dress guidelines for that employment but only after a number of warnings have been issued. In addition the employer would need to be able to show that the colour of socks was important, ie if the employee deals with customers then it may be relevant but if the empoyee never deals with the public then it is unlikely they could be sacked.

  30. #30 DrBadger
    October 30, 2007

    I’ve been arguing with lots of people, including future pharmacists about this (btw, for some reason Pharmacy school students have a higher percentage of conservative christians that I would expect), and it never ends up going anywhere. The line with the Muslim bagboys is great P.Z. If there’s anything christians hate, it’s giving muslims more power. I feel like the only way to keep out these laws allowing people to not do their jobs because of religion is to make a point that people of other religions will also be able to use the excuse.

  31. #31 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    Do you think the Pope would be happy to allow people to discriminate against Catholics because they happen to belong to a religious group that considers the Pope to be the anti-christ ? How about a school teacher in say, Northern Ireland refusing to teach a catholic child on the grounds that catholocism is an “evil” religion and the teacher does not in all conscience feel they can teach a catholic.

    I somehow doubt it.

  32. #32 SeanH
    October 30, 2007

    Matt, it’s very different in the US. “At will” is a totally accurate description of most employment here. A person has a right to equal employment opportunity, but there is no assumed right to be employed at all. So, for instance, an employer can’t discriminate and fire you because he thinks you’re too old, but he’s perfectly free to fire you because he thinks you’re too slow. An employee can be fired simply because an employer doesn’t like working with them. Also, in most cases a fired US worker isn’t entitled to compensation of any kind and length of service is generally irrelevant.

  33. #33 Tom in Iowa
    October 30, 2007

    People should be protected “from Conception to natural death”?

    But isn’t it natural that when a person gets severely sick – they die. Medical therapies are unnaturally interfering in the that natural process.

    Thus no need for pharmacists at all!

  34. #34 NonyNony
    October 30, 2007

    LM –

    Wait, so is he objecting to the regular ol’ Pill?

    Yes. The RCC position on birth control is “nothing is allowed”. They made an exemption sometime in the 60s (IIRC) to allow “rhythym methods” to prevent pregnancy, but nothing else is allowed.

    The “theory” is that the Pill can cause fertilized eggs not to implant on the uterus wall, which to the RCC is the same as an abortion (because life begins at CONCEPTION). According to the RCC anything that “kills” even a fertilized egg is “taking human life” and therefore immoral.

    This rationale is, of course, ludicrous. Because they then extend this ban to the use of CONDOMS and other “barrier” methods – whose entire purpose is to prevent fertilization in the first place. So then they have to justify THAT by saying that the barriers are also tampering with “God’s will” and that every act of intercourse should be able to lead to conception with no interference from the participants. Except that they’ve made an exception for “rhythym methods” for family planning – so you’re allowed to tamper with God’s will as long as you use your knowledge of your biological cycle as the method of tampering and not anything else. BTW – “pulling out” without ejaculating is ALSO a sin according to the RCC – for a bunch of supposedly celibate guys they’ve certainly thought about this stuff an awful lot.

    But this is all a lot of post-hoc justification for a stance that was taken long ago. And the reason the hard-line stance against contraception was taken was because Protestant churches started allowing married couples to use contraception for family planning purposes in the early 20th century. Given the history of it, I suspect that they came around precisely because of the difficulty of raising a family of 12 kids on a preacher’s take from the collection basket every week. The RCC, of course, doesn’t have this problem because they don’t let their priests have families. So they don’t actually have to worry about how these rules affect THEM. And anything that the Protestant churches were doing at the time that deviated even the slightest bit from established tradition was a way for the RCC to slam the Protestant churches. So the hardline stance was taken and we’ve been living with the repercussions ever since. The RCC has a very, very hard time admitting that they were wrong, and so has a very, very hard time changing stances on stuff like this (admission of fault implies fallibility, after all, and if God’s messengers are fallible, why bother listening to them?)

    (Interestingly enough, back in the 60s one of the more forward-thinking Popes convened a council of priests and laity to look into whether the church’s stance on contraception should be revised. After a long, in-depth study of the issue the council voted with a fair-sized majority that the contraception issue should be revised and Church members should be allowed to use it. But by the time that all finished up, the papacy had changed hands and the new guy was more conservative. So he threw out their findings and said “the rule stands”. And the RCC has been trending more reactionary and conservative ever since.)

  35. #35 MartinM
    October 30, 2007

    It seems that many who want to be able to opt out of performing certain tasks, or complying with certain requirements want to be able to do so without facing any consequences as the result of their decisions.

    Martyrdom-lite. You get to whine about how persecuted you are without the actual persecution.

  36. #36 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    SeanH,

    In the EU it is possible to fire someone for being too slow, as that would be covered by incompetence. However there is a caveat and that is the employer would need to show that they gave every chance to the employee to improve and that sufficient training was given. An employer would not be able to fire someone just because they do not like them: It such a situation the employer is expected to offer a probationary period first but unless the employer decides not to continue with the employment then the grounds for dismissal become much more restricted.

    On the subject of compensation in the EU it is an issue of the reason for dismissal. If it is for incompetence or misconduct then no compensation would be payable, other than holiday pay still due, although in practice most employers would offer some kind of payment to avoid the possibility of legal action, ie if you agree to go we will pay you two months wages and you agree not to sue us. If the reason for dismissal is because the employer is say restructuring the business, or closes a branch then compensation would payable and for people with many years of service it can amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

  37. #37 scienceteacherinexile
    October 30, 2007

    Matt Penfold:
    Yeah, same here in South Africa. When I first came here from the US, I hired a maid (almost everyone here has a maid). When I found out the rules around getting rid of her (not that I wanted to) I almost fell over. I think some of the rules are good, some have gone a bit too far IMO.
    If someone knows of a religion that can get me out of my weekly teleconference with me US side client, please let me know… it’s not fun (because of the time difference).

  38. #38 Phaedrus
    October 30, 2007

    It seems like conception is the trigger here. I would really like to see this explored. Perhaps a debate between a biologist and the Pope on the reasons for or against.

  39. #39 shpx.ohfu
    October 30, 2007

    His hats must be colored with Sudan Red IV – the cancer has obviously rotted his brain.

  40. #40 Uber
    October 30, 2007

    I guess it’s not just deranged protestant fundamentalists

    This thinking always bugs me. With the exception of the ‘earth is 6000 years old bunch’ Protestant churches are far superior and less full of woo-woo than the RCC which is essentially buried in woo.

    I don’t see how one can be a rationlist and pretend to be catholic.

    After a long, in-depth study of the issue the council voted with a fair-sized majority that the contraception issue should be revised and Church members should be allowed to use

    This same discussion happened with the divorce issue. They are doctrinally wrong and alot of priests know it but for the reasons you mention above they didn’t change.

  41. #41 Willey
    October 30, 2007

    If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate…

    Well, as crass and as wonderfully as bill hicks put it…

    I have wiped entire civilizations off of my chest with a grey gym sock.

  42. #42 Epistaxis
    October 30, 2007

    and the Muslim cabbies can end the transport of alcohol

    Haven’t they already done that in Minneapolis? Now they’re trying to codify it. You can’t argue with a fatwa. Until I read that, I didn’t realize they also refuse to serve blind people with seeing-eye dogs. For shame.

    The issue is whether an employee’s refusal to dispense a particular drug for religious reasons is protected. It’s somewhat of a fuzzy area right now.

    Firing pharmacists because of religious beliefs that don’t interfere with work is evil, but the employer should be allowed to fire them for not doing their job, whatever excuse they give.

    one could argue that because pharmacists are granted a government license (essentially, a government-sanctioned monopoly) to dispense medication, they are obligated to fill any lawful prescription brought in by a member of the public

    So the solution for the government is simple: if pharmacists don’t fill prescriptions, revoke their licenses. That’s tidy. Although it could mean rural parts of the country will either have no pharmacists or unlicensed ones.

    Where does a customer – er, patient – go to ask for a health care professional’s license to be revoked?

  43. #43 raven
    October 30, 2007

    Most Catholics in this country just ignore the Pope when they feel like it. Following every bizarre medieval rule of the church would cause brain damage.

    The proof of this. The average family size of Catholics in the US is almost exactly equal to the national average family size.

    I know a few devout Catholics from here and there. When the priests start rattling on about birth control they just smile and nod. And ignore it. A celibate old male has no business telling people how many children they can or should have.

    One advantage of living in a democracy. People get used to making their own decisions and taking responsibility for them.

  44. #44 Chris
    October 30, 2007

    I’m a cop, I just busted two dudes transporting 8 keys of pure Peruvian blow in the trunk of their car. But I don’t believe that cocaine should be illegal, so I let it go. 🙂

  45. #45 PsychoAtheist
    October 30, 2007

    I blogged about the very same subject earlier. When researching it I found this little extract in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain’s Code of Ethics :

    Make sure that your professional judgement is not impaired by personal or commercial interests, incentives, targets or similar measures.

    I was just wondering if there is a US version of this Code of Ethics and what that might have to say on the matter?

  46. #46 E in MD
    October 30, 2007

    But if you drop dead because you don’t have your insulin isn’t it just god’s will?

    I notice he doesn’t mention Viagra. Would could be more immoral than giving an 90 year old man a boner?

  47. #47 Pablo
    October 30, 2007

    The lawyer comments above are relevant here, I think. The general argument here is about freedom of commerce, and that businesses (and thus their employees) are allowed to chose who and what to sell. However, pharmacies are a special case. They are granted special license by the government to sell substances that other businesses are not. In exchange, the government is fair to impose responsibilities upon them. Among those is the responsibility to dispense what the doctor prescribes. If an employee is not willing to dispense prescribed medication, then they should not be allowed to have a pharmacy license.

    The pharmacist can certainly play an important role, particularly in identified potentially dangerous interactions between drugs. If the pharamacist suspects that a prescription is not appropriate for any reason, they are most certainly within their rights to question it. The way to do that is to consult with doctor who made the prescription and verify that it is appropriate. However, the pharmacist, not being a licensed physician, is not authorized to decide unilaterally that a patient should not receive a medication. I have likened this in the past to practicing medicine without a license. Only doctors are allowed to diagnose and prescribe. A pharmacist refusing to dispense prescribed medication has effectively determined that the medication is not needed for treatment of the patient. Amazingly, they have made that diagnosis without ever having conducted a physical exam!

    In terms of free business practice, it is reasonable that a business chose not to supply a particular medication, for whatever reason. Therefore, it need not be immediately available. However, I would say that if that is the case, and a patient presents a prescription for it, then the pharmacy must offer to order it for them. OTOH, if it is sitting on the shelf, the pharmacist has the responsibility to fulfill the doctor’s prescription.

    If businesses aren’t happy with the government regulations on what they have to sell, then they can just give up their pharmacy license, and they can have the freedom to not sell whatever they want. However, it is the height of hypocrisy to hold a pharmacy license and complain about the government interfering in your business practice. The government has allowed you the ability to sell stuff that other stores can’t. You already have a major perk.

  48. #48 Matt Penfold
    October 30, 2007

    PyschoAtheist,

    My understanding is that here in the UK a pharmacist may refuse to dispense contraception, or the morning after pill but only if in doing so they do not impair the woman’s right to have the prescription fulfilled. What I take that to mean is that they cannot refuse if in doing so they would cause a delay that would mean the effectivness of the pill would be negated. An issue more relevant to the morning after pill I suspect.

    On an related issue there has a been a debate here in the UK in the last week or so into abortion. Not into whether it should be legal, there is not much disagreement between the political parties here about that, but over time limits and access. At present abortion is legal up to 24 weeks (or unlimited if the mother’s life is at risk) but requires the signature of two doctors. It has been suggested for abortions at or before 12 weeks that requirement be removed and the agreement of one doctor be sufficient. As part of that debate the issue of objection of religous grounds came up and it seems there is a gray area. Doctors can currently refuse to sign to allow an abortion on legal grounds, and that right is protected by law (an issue I think needs addressing!). What is less clear is the issue of referral. Some doctors claim not only can they not sign the forms they can also refuse to refer a woman to a doctor who will. The legal protection for such a position is not clear (it does not seem to have been tested in the courts). There seems to be a consensus that whilst a doctor might refuse to be directly involved he/she should provide a referral if asked.

  49. #49 Jolly Bloger
    October 30, 2007

    I agree with the sentiment 100%. The solution here is to put more power in the hands of pharmacy owners and employers. Right now, the pope hopes, a pharmacist fired for objecting to birth control would be able to sue his employer and keep his job. Certainly a pharmacist has the right not to sell anything he doesn’t want to, but his employer must also be allowed the right to fire him. That way we’ll get catholic employers running catholic pharmacies for catholic baby factory families and the rest of us can just avoid them.

  50. #50 reason
    October 30, 2007

    uber

    They are doctrinally wrong ..

    What does that mean exactly? As doctrine is basically whatever the church abitrarily decides it should be, I can’t see how it can be wrong. The problem is having doctrine in the first place.

  51. #51 E in MD
    October 30, 2007

    It is the protections we have for their beliefs that allow them to be imposed.

    Posted by: Bill C. | October 30, 2007 9:27 AM

    True, but it’s ridiculous that we’re protecting these people.

    Should we protect the Wiccan clerk at Staples because she doesn’t want to sell paper because trees are sacred?

    Should we protect the Jewish McDonalds cashier because he refuses to sell hamburgers because they’re not kosher?

    Should we protect the Muslim SPCA worker who refuses to care for dogs because they are Haram?

    Should we protect the Vegan EMT let a Christian die afer a car crash because the Christian is wearing a leather belt?

    No. Each of these is equally ridiculous and if some follower of any of these religions tried to claim the right to do this, Christians would be up in arms protesting just like they do with the bullshit ‘War on Christmas’ every year.

    These people are hired to do a job an if they are incapable of doing said job the business owner SHOULD fire them. We’re not talking about asking for a day off to dance naked under the full moon during a Sabbat or wanting to take off for Yom Kippur. We’re talking about an employee refusing to do his job because he believes his moral concerns are more important that the moral concerns of the people he or she is servicing. That is ludicrous! You don’t go to a pharmacist to be proselytized to, you go to a pharmacist to get drugs prescribed to you by a doctor. These people have every right to their opinions but they have no right to make moral decisions about another person’s life.

    The bottom line is, I’m the customer. I don’t give a damn what your* opinion is on anything other than on the drugs themselves. That is what I am paying my $50 copay for. Not for you to make unsolicited decisions for me and my sex life. Just fill my script and shut the hell up. I don’t go soliciting marital advice from the bathroom attendant.

    This is just yet another example how the Christian majority is expecting to get special rights above everyone else, plain and simple. A statement I will retract and apologize for when Christian groups start vocally supporting other religious groups getting the same rights they are demanding.

    * You & your referring to these holier than thou pharmacists

  52. #52 Pierce R. Butler
    October 30, 2007

    We’re now more than a quarter-century into the AIDS era, yet –

    Ratzinger’s esteemed predecessor publicly urged Italy’s pharmacists to remove all condoms from their shelves;

    and very recently one of Ratzinger’s subordinates scared those foolish enough to believe him with a lie that some condoms are deliberately contaminated with HIV.

    The Catholic hierarchy has no claim whatsoever to any voice in discussions of morality, ethics, or health.

  53. #53 raven
    October 30, 2007

    Pharmacists are licensed to dispense drugs. They are not licensed to practice medicine or judge other people’s decisions.

    If they can’t put aside their religious doctrines and do their jobs, they should not have become pharmacists in the first place.

  54. #54 E in Md
    October 30, 2007

    So then they have to justify THAT by saying that the barriers are also tampering with “God’s will” and that every act of

    Yup. All powerful, all seeing, ever present creator of the universe.

    Defeated by a penis shaped piece of latex. If you ignore how ridiculous religion is by design the very idea that such a being could be thwarted in his goal by anything mortal man wanted is absurd.

    Uh huh… This one always amused me. If God wanted you to get preggers… you’d get preggers anyway.

  55. #55 Colugo
    October 30, 2007

    2007:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article2603966.ece

    “Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs. …

    A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. …

    The religious objections by students have been confirmed by the British Medical Association (BMA) and General Medical Council (GMC), which both stressed that they did not approve of such actions.”

    2001:
    http://www.pfc.org.uk/node/670

    “Britain’s Evangelical Christians have condemned transsexuality as “a fantasy and an illusion”, arguing that sex-change operations should be banned. Instead, says the Evangelical Alliance, which claims to represent one million churchgoers, transsexuals should pray for normality.”

  56. #56 ckerst
    October 30, 2007

    If your job presents you with a moral issue perhaps you need to find a new job.

  57. #57 LM
    October 30, 2007

    “The “theory” is that the Pill can cause fertilized eggs not to implant on the uterus wall…”

    But that’s absurd. The regular run of the mill Pill just keeps eggs from being released from the ovaries. The eggs can’t be fertilized because they just aren’t THERE. I’m not surprised that people lie about the pill, though. When I taught developmental bio and we talked about the effects of estrogen, inevitably leading up to a discussion on birth control pills, about 99% of my kids were like, “OH! THAT’S how it works???”

    Oy.

  58. #58 Pablo
    October 30, 2007

    “Certainly a pharmacist has the right not to sell anything he doesn’t want to”

    No, they do not have the “right” to do that. With their license, comes responsibility. If they are not willing to do their licensed job, then they should have their license revoked. Then they can not sell anything they don’t want to.

    They can chose to not sell anything they don’t want to, but if they don’t they have to live with the consequences. It doesn’t mean they have a right to do it.

  59. #59 C. Diane
    October 30, 2007

    I’m a pharmacist. I hate to say it, but my compatriots trend conservative: it’s the money, really.

    I think the conscientious objection laws are stupid. I mean, if I worked in a retail chain and refused to dispense, say, Clomid on the grounds that artificially-induced pregnancy is morally wrong, I’d be fired faster than a bullet.

  60. #60 PsychoAtheist
    October 30, 2007

    Posted by: Matt Penfold | October 30, 2007 12:05 PM

    PyschoAtheist,

    My understanding is that here in the UK a pharmacist may refuse to dispense contraception, or the morning after pill but only if in doing so they do not impair the woman’s right to have the prescription fulfilled. What I take that to mean is that they cannot refuse if in doing so they would cause a delay that would mean the effectivness of the pill would be negated. An issue more relevant to the morning after pill I suspect.

    I’m not entirely sure mate though that sounds about right given our government’s pandering to the PC brigade.

    On an related issue there has a been a debate here in the UK in the last week or so into abortion.

    Yeah, I blogged about that as well. The major factor was that some individuals who were to present evidence to the committee had not disclosed their links to Christian anti-abortion groups.

    I’ve been following it closely, the anti-abortion crowd have been throwing out the old canards about ‘increased risk of cancer’ and ‘psychological damage’ which are being shot down by the real scientists in the room.

  61. #61 PsychoAtheist
    October 30, 2007

    Damn! forgot to close the italic tab after the world ‘suspect’ in my last post.

    Sorry

  62. #62 PsychoAtheist
    October 30, 2007

    ‘Word’ not ‘world’.

    Keyboard and brain checked in for service first thing tomorrow.:|

  63. #63 Uber
    October 30, 2007

    What does that mean exactly? As doctrine is basically whatever the church abitrarily decides it should be, I can’t see how it can be wrong. The problem is having doctrine in the first place.

    Fair enough, to clarify the position they take is based on faulty reasoning.

  64. #64 Thony C.
    October 30, 2007

    The meeting of pharmacists at which Benny held this speech was in Italy and the Italian Government has already reminded Italian pharmacists of their legal obligation to fulfil all prescriptions written by doctors.

  65. #65 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    Don’t want to carry people with alcohol? Don’t become a taxi driver, or at least inform people when they phone you so that they are not inconvenienced.

    That’s a reasonable approach.

    If you’re the only cab in a deserted place and your possible passengers have a bottle of hooch with them, then tough! Sorry but your ability to do the job should not be impaired by your conscience, if your job and your conscience clash, do a different job.

    That’s not.

    I am amazed that so many posters here claim to be empathic, caring, left-leaning individuals but are always more than ready to force their views on others. If a taxi driver doesn’t want to transport alcohol, it is your right to give your money to a different taxi driver. It is not your right to force the first driver to behave they way _you_ want him to.

    The same applies to pharmacists. If a pharmacist takes a job knowing that he will have to dispense contraception, refusing to do so should be grounds for dismissal. On the other hand, if a company is willing to support that refusal, potential customers are free to patronize other pharmacies. Initiating force to compel others to behave as you would like them to is simply wrong.

    If you really want to be a decent, moral person, pay attention to which way the gun is pointing.

    Jack

  66. #66 AR
    October 30, 2007

    What if pharmacists demanded a marriage license before dispensing Viagra?
    What if pharmacists demanded a notarized statement from the wife that the sex was going to be with her?
    Let’s see pharmacists who treat birth-control-pill-seeking women like dirt, try making Viagra-seeking-older-men feel like dirt.

  67. #67 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    When I taught developmental bio and we talked about the effects of estrogen, inevitably leading up to a discussion on birth control pills, about 99% of my kids were like, “OH! THAT’S how it works???”

    At a university?

    Over here how all manner of contraception works is taught in the 8th year of school.

  68. #68 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    When I taught developmental bio and we talked about the effects of estrogen, inevitably leading up to a discussion on birth control pills, about 99% of my kids were like, “OH! THAT’S how it works???”

    At a university?

    Over here how all manner of contraception works is taught in the 8th year of school.

  69. #69 julia
    October 30, 2007

    I find the “conscientious objector” concept so offensive. I come from a family of conscientious objectors, and the idea that someone would use that phrase to deny women their reproductive rights is just horrible. No one is forced to be a pharmacist the way that the draft forces people to become soldiers. They already have an easy opt-out if they’re morally opposed — just get another job.

  70. #70 laserboy
    October 30, 2007

    Actually the RCC’s stance on contraception is more about sin than anything else. You see, kiddies, sex is bad… bad bad bad… But without sex there are no babies and no babies eventually means no church, so obviously some sex should take place but only if you are trying to conceive a baby. Therefore, any act of sex that also tries to prevent conception is a deadly devious and possible evil sin.

    So, you see they are really just trying to look after you… for your own sake of course.

    BTW, if you follow the penitential rules for when you are allowed to have sex, then you end up with maybe 30-40 opportunities per year.

  71. #71 MartinM
    October 30, 2007

    On the other hand, if a company is willing to support that refusal, potential customers are free to patronize other pharmacies.

    Not necessarily. If the only grocer in the area refuses to sell my favourite ice-cream, I can always start my own shop and stock it myself. If I try to start my own pharmacy, on the other hand, I get arrested.

    The pharmacist has a privileged market position, backed by government force. The price for this privilege is doing the damn job.

  72. #72 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    The pharmacist has a privileged market position, backed by government force.

    That’s another problem.

    It is an insidious and specious defense of the initiation of force to claim that one instance of coercion is justified by another.

  73. #73 LM
    October 30, 2007

    David Marjanovi?: Ayuh. These were mostly juniors and seniors, too!

  74. #74 William
    October 30, 2007

    Gadzooks.

    People, think about the proposed remedy here. Most people in this thread are telling the pharmacist that, rather than participate in what he believes to be the killing of a human being, he should quit his job and find one in another line of work… as if jobs grew on trees. Between the two costs for whom to favor in the legal presuppositions — a customer who can (yes, allright, usually) take their business to another pharmacist, or a person being asked to choose between keeping his job and doing something morally equivalent to murder — the easier cost seems to be the one we should reasonably impose, with exceptions dictated by special circumstances (I live in a rural area, there isn’t another pharmacist; I’m homebound, I have to get my scrips by mail).

    The “Muslim cabbie” issue differs in several points. The moral objection is far less than something the driver believes to be murder; the enabling contribution he makes to the consumption is far less direct; and so forth. It’s easy to see these points if you’ll just take a moment to put yourself in the service-provider’s shoes. Come on, folks, we’re liberals, we’re supposed to be good at that.

  75. #75 raven
    October 30, 2007

    as if jobs grew on trees.

    That is the pharmacist’s problem. It shouldn’t be the problem of the doc, the patient, or his employer.

    If the pharmacist refuses to do his job, he should and is free to seek other lines of work. In fact, the way the laws in the USA are structured, in most cases the employer will facilitate that. Most large stores with pharmacies now require prospective employees to read and sign their rules for service to customers. Which include filling prescriptions rather than playing god or priest.

    If we wanted priests or ministers to prescreen prescriptions, we would hire them instead.

  76. #76 hf
    October 30, 2007

    This is simply a religious injunction to be intolerant, a denial of the plain fact that many non-Catholics (and, of course, even many Catholics) do not obey papal rules.

    Don’t know if anyone pointed this out yet, but Ratzi could easily mean it as a response to that last part rather than a denial.

  77. #77 markbt73
    October 30, 2007

    It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to refuse to perform a service they were hired to perform based on “moral” objections to situations they knew (if they had an ounce of sense) would arise.

    And it is despicable for someone to take such a job, knowing that such situations might arise, and seeing it as a chance to preach their “morals,” as I’m sure happens.

    It’s not my job to go find another pharmacist; it’s their job to fill my prescription, accurately, completely, and quickly. And if they will not, they need to find another line of work. And if they have the backing of the “company policy,” then the company needs to find a new business.

    No one is trying to force anyone to behave in any way; we’re simply demanding, and rightly, that if you are hired to do a job, you do it. If you are unwilling to perform the duties of the job, you have no business being employed in that job. Full stop.

  78. #78 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    No one is trying to force anyone to behave in any way; we’re simply demanding, and rightly, that if you are hired to do a job, you do it. If you are unwilling to perform the duties of the job, you have no business being employed in that job.

    Doesn’t your head hurt when you write self-contradictory statements so close together?

    You are advocating forcing someone to behave in the way that _you_ want them to by _your_ definition of what _you_ want their job to be. The taxi driver who refuses to transport liquor and the pharmacist who refuses to dispense contraception do not define the job the same way.

    It’s not very “liberal” to be so intolerant of others’ beliefs and so willing to control their lives.

  79. #79 sil-chan
    October 30, 2007

    I find it interesting that he wants to protect life from “conception to NATURAL DEATH” (emphasis mine).

    If he s such a strong believer in natural death, then by all means, when he goes to the hospital, do NOT use any drugs, antibiotics, or machines to keep him alive. The universe will thank you for not prolonging his life unnaturally.

  80. #80 MartinM
    October 30, 2007

    It is an insidious and specious defense of the initiation of force to claim that one instance of coercion is justified by another.

    No, it isn’t. If you want to argue that pharmacy should be de-regulated, knock yourself out. The fact remains that as long as pharmacists retain their privileged position, they should be required to carry out the duties that go with it.

  81. #81 raven
    October 30, 2007

    In point of fact, most pharmacies now require prospective employees to sign their rules of employment which do not include playing god, missionary, or priest.

    Pharmacies are an important magnet for drawing in customers who shop while waiting for the prescription to be filled. That is why you see them in grocery stores and Walmart etc..Imagine some creep who won’t fill your prescription for birth control pills or sell someone condoms. After the customer finishes screaming, how often does anyone think they will shop there again? About never.

    Pharmacists who want to play god should buy an ant farm and set up their own little heaven and hell. Don’t expect someone in business to make a profit to pay you for it though.

  82. #82 Jack
    October 30, 2007
    It is an insidious and specious defense of the initiation of force to claim that one instance of coercion is justified by another.

    No, it isn’t.

    Well, that’s an impressive argument.

    If you want to argue that pharmacy should be de-regulated, knock yourself out. The fact remains that as long as pharmacists retain their privileged position, they should be required to carry out the duties that go with it.

    You mean the duties that _you_ think should go with it. The only “privilege” that pharmacists have is that the government licensing requirements have the effect of reducing competition. Those same requirements also have costs.

    What you’re really saying is “I want to tell you exactly how to do your job.” Scratch a so-called liberal, find a control freak.

  83. #83 MartinM
    October 30, 2007

    Well, that’s an impressive argument.

    It’s the only response a bald assertion really requires.

    You mean the duties that _you_ think should go with it.

    I mean the duties that define it. A qualfied pharmacist doesn’t get government support if they choose to open a hotdog stand.

    The only “privilege” that pharmacists have is that the government licensing requirements have the effect of reducing competition.

    Yes, that would be the privilege I was talking about. Top marks for reading comprehension. Putting the word ‘privilege’ in quotes does not, in fact, constitute a counterargument.

  84. #84 Fastlane
    October 30, 2007

    Look PZ, you got yourself another right wing troll. You have a special breeding facility or something?

    Jack, your pathetic attempt at equating the expectation of actually doing one’s job to somehow being ‘forced’ to behave in a way that they don’t like is really….strange, to say the least.

    No one forced the pharmacist to go to pharmacy school….a pretty significant choice and investment of time and money. No one then forced them to go on and become a pharmacist. And do you think that in going through school, and becoming a pharmacist, it would not have occurred to them somewhere along the way that they just might, possibly, remotely, see a birth control pill subscription come across to be filled?

    I suppose you’d be ok if Muslim teachers proselytized in school. After all, not letting them would be forcing them to bahave in a way that is contrary to what they believe…yea verily, even tantamount to murder since they would be condemning all those poor souls to hell if they don’t save them!!

    It is kinda ironic, though, when a wingnut tries to think like a liberal…that whole internal consistency, the actual thinking…it’s so foreign to the right wingers.

  85. #85 Mrs Tilton
    October 30, 2007

    Before you sneer at markbt73’s thinking, Jack, you might try to get a little better at thinking yourself.

    Pharmacists and cabbies are both granted a licence by the state to provide certain services that may be legally provided only by holders of such licences. They are at best (from the consumer’s perspective) oligopolists and, depending on time and place, may be effectively monopolists. And hence it is entirely reasonable that the state condition their retention of the licence on, for example, filling all scrips/serving all riders without discrimination.

    It would be highly illiberal to force a Roman Catholic pharmacist to use contraceptives, or a Muslim cabbie to drink. But it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes, or that the cabbie transport passengers whether or not they are carrying, or have been drinking, alcohol. And it is not in the least illiberal for the state to strip the pharmacist and the cabbie of their licences if they fail to fulfil the basic conditions of holding it in the first place. As many have said, the catholic pharmacist and Muslim cabbie of this illustration are unfit for their jobs and need to find new ones.

    If you like, of course, you can argue that everybody should be able to fill prescriptions or operate a cab service without any sort of state licence. If that were reality, then yes, you’d have an argument that the state should not then impose conditions on those choosing to do so. But most of us don’t live in libertarian fantasy land, and don’t want to either.

  86. #86 Julie Stahlhut
    October 30, 2007

    Dunno about Muslims and alcohol, or Catholics and condoms, but those darned Mormons will take away my coffee cup when they pry my cold dead fingers off it.

  87. #87 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    I knew if I kept poking the nest that more of the oh-so-tolerant, pseudo-compassionate control freaks would appear.

    Listen to yourselves. You’re all assuming that you have some right to tell other people how to behave. You couch it in language to attempt to hide it, but at your cores you think that your rules should apply to everyone. The idea of a strict Catholic pharmacist who defines the job differently than you can’t even fit in your head. Such a person is so self-evidently evil in your eyes that you would use force to strip them of their livelihood in the name of tolerance and compassion.

    Here’s a clue for you: You have no right to tell others how to live. You have no right to tell a taxi driver he is unfit for his job because he refuses to transport alcohol for you. You have no right to interfere with consensual relationships between other human beings.

    For those of you who can’t understand these simple ideas about real tolerance and compassion, it is my sincere hope that you learn them by being subject to having your lives destroyed “for the good of society.”

  88. #88 Liane
    October 30, 2007

    Jack @ #85:
    You have no right to interfere with consensual relationships between other human beings.

    Coming from a right-winger, TEH FUNNY!1!!

    Seriously, what is with all these pathetic whiny rightards?

    Oh and there have been cases of rightard pharmacists not only refusing to fill prescriptions but confiscating the prescriptions so that the customer can’t get his scrip at another pharmacy. And these are the people who whine about other people telling THEM how to live? LOLOL!

  89. #89 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    The federal Civil Rights Act requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who have religious objections to certain job rules. The law applies whether the employee is licensed by the state or not. The employee’s religious objection does not need to be rational or reasonable, just sincerely held. This doesn’t mean pharmacists have an unlimited right to refuse to dispense birth control or abortion medications without being fired or disciplined, but it does mean they have some rights in that regard. It is your absolutist position against any kind of accommodation of the pharmacists’ beliefs at all that is illiberal and intolerant.

  90. #90 Xanthir, FCD
    October 30, 2007

    Here’s a clue for you: You have no right to tell others how to live. You have no right to tell a taxi driver he is unfit for his job because he refuses to transport alcohol for you. You have no right to interfere with consensual relationships between other human beings.

    ::head a’splodes from the hypocrisy::

  91. #91 shiftlessbum
    October 30, 2007

    So Jason, MrsTilton, et al, would you agree that “reasonable accomodation” might mean, for example, that a particular pharmacist need not fill out a prescription they have objection to so long as another is available to do it?

  92. #92 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    So Jason, MrsTilton, et al, would you agree that “reasonable accomodation” might mean, for example, that a particular pharmacist need not fill out a prescription they have objection to so long as another is available to do it?

    I would.

  93. #93 Owlmirror
    October 30, 2007

    You have no right to tell others how to live. You have no right to tell a taxi driver he is unfit for his job because he refuses to transport alcohol for you.

    .

    Mm. And the refusal to transport guide dogs?

    What if a Muslim taxi driver refused to transport you because you were eating a hot dog? Or were carrying a ham, or other pig product?

    I’m willing to bet that there’s something that you do or want to do that offends someone. Are you quite, quite sure that no refusal of service for whatever that something might be would never cause you to complain about standards of service?

  94. #94 shiftlessbum
    October 30, 2007

    Jason, thank you for your response.

    Reasonable accomodation. An interesting term to use in this regard, but one fraught with pitfalls. What would you think should occur when, presuming this kind of accomodation, there is no other pharmacist available? In that case, whose rights should prevail?

  95. #95 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    What would you think should occur when, presuming this kind of accomodation, there is no other pharmacist available?

    It would depend on the circumstances, but in that case I think the employer might be justified in firing or taking disciplinary action against the pharmacist if she refused to fill the prescription.

  96. #96 raven
    October 30, 2007

    Jack @ #85:

    You have no right to interfere with consensual relationships between other human beings.

    Hey, what is consensual about a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription? Idiot!!! Nothing.

    Consensual decisions are these. A culty pharmacist has no right to interfere with a doc’s medical decisions. He isn’t licensed to practice medicine. Or a patients medical decisions. The pharmacist isn’t appointed god no matter what he thinks.

    Another one. An employer is in business to make a buck. This is called capitalism. He is under no obligation to employ some freak who drives away business and alienates customers and doc’s, gaining bad PR for the company, while chanting “god made me do it”. Any employer would have the right to give the freak the heave ho. In fact, they routinely do just that.

    Here is another consensual arrangement. Don’t want to do your job. FIND ANOTHER JOB. So simple.

  97. #97 khan
    October 30, 2007

    Local fundie college is establishing a pharmacy degree.

    (I suspect for the purpose of producing just this kind of aforementioned creep.)

    http://www.cedarville.edu/newsrelease/2007/CU_Announces_Plans_for_School_of_Pharmacy/2132272127

  98. #98 Mrs Tilton
    October 30, 2007

    Jason, dear boy,

    your point about an American law is fascinating altogether, but as I am an EU citizen living in Europe, I confess I do not entirely see its relevance.

    This isn’t all about America, you know. Ratzinger — the fellow whose comments started the whole discussion — himself does not live there. Though it’s indisputably true that the world does revolve around America, Ratzinger’s church arrogates the title “universal” and thus he may be presumed to have been speaking for more than merely God’s Own Country.

    As for the specifically US legal situation, though: you would do well to learn to read more closely before you start tossing around accusations of intolerance and illiberality. (And if you’re really this bad at reading statute law, I hope for the sake of your hypothetical clients that you’re no lawyer.) Note particularly, if you will, whom the Civil Rights Act requires to make accommodations. “Employers” are not the same thing as “people seeking the filling of a prescription”. I am less concerned, you know, about individual employees of a pharmacy than about the business itself. If an individual employee feels a compunction about dispensing contraception and the business owner can reasonably accommodate that compunction (e.g., by summoning another employee to count out the satanic pills), well then, everybody’s happy. (Under some circumstances, of course — e.g., an employee saddled with strange religious compunctions is the sole dispenser of drugs on the night shift — accommodating those compunctions would be unreasonable. I think even the Civil Rights Act does not require unreasonable accommodation, and here the employer can and should dispense with the employee’s further services.) But if the employer — the holder of the licence to dispense prescription drugs — refuses to fill prescriptions for contraception, then yes, of course the licence should be terminated forthwith; and the Civil Rights Act would have nothing to say against that.

  99. #99 Rachel I.
    October 30, 2007

    Right… The damn Vatican asshat can’t even stick to telling his cultists how to live their personal lives, he has to tell them that, as citizens of countries that are not his own, they have “rights” he has chosen for them — even though they may or may not actually have such rights in those countries, and even though they may be breaking contracts they’ve made to their employers and customers by attempting to exercise them. (Isn’t there a stone-tablet law about breaking your word?)

    Argh, I need to get a new damned prescription for my antidepressants before reading too much of this blog at a time. And I need more BC, for other reasons, but now I’m worrying again that someone’ll give me crap over it. At least I found a hospital whose webpage admits that gyn is more than yanking babies out of people…

    I wonder if this is an issue with mail-order pharmacies? Guess I’ll find out soonish…

  100. #100 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    Jason, dear boy, your point about an American law is fascinating altogether, but as I am an EU citizen living in Europe, I confess I do not entirely see its relevance.

    MrsTilton, old gal, it’s relevant because, much as it may surprise you, America has pharmacists too. And it appears from post #47 that a similar “reasonable accommodation” law may apply in the UK. Perhaps other EU nations have such laws also.

    As for the specifically US legal situation, though: you would do well to learn to read more closely before you start tossing around accusations of intolerance and illiberality.

    I do not toss around such accusations. Your post deserved it.

    Note particularly, if you will, whom the Civil Rights Act requires to make accommodations. “Employers” are not the same thing as “people seeking the filling of a prescription”.

    Obviously. But pharmacists are employed by “employers” not by “people seeking the filling of a prescription,” so I’m not sure what relevance you think this observation has to employment law.

    I am less concerned, you know, about individual employees of a pharmacy than about the business itself. If an individual employee feels a compunction about dispensing contraception and the business owner can reasonably accommodate that compunction (e.g., by summoning another employee to count out the satanic pills), well then, everybody’s happy.

    Not you. You said: “… it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” Are you now retracting that statement? It’s stupid and wrong not just because it is illiberal and intolerant, but because it’s dangerous.

    I think even the Civil Rights Act does not require unreasonable accommodation,

    No kidding. That’s why the wording is reasonable accommodation. You’re one smart cookie.

  101. #101 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    I’m willing to bet that there’s something that you do or want to do that offends someone. Are you quite, quite sure that no refusal of service for whatever that something might be would never cause you to complain about standards of service?

    Are you quite, quite sure that you wouldn’t force another human being to bend to your will?

    Why yes, as long as they weren’t trying to bend me to theirs, I am.

  102. #102 Jack
    October 30, 2007
    You have no right to interfere with consensual relationships between other human beings.

    Hey, what is consensual about a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription? Idiot!!! Nothing.

    Typical nonsense and namecalling from someone without a real argument. You have a right to choose whatever pharmacist you wish. The pharmacist has the right to choose whichever customers he or she wishes. It is, or should be, a mutually consensual relationship. If both of you don’t agree, no interaction takes place.

    You want to use force to make the relationship non-consensual. You do not have the right to treat another human being that way.

  103. #103 Jack
    October 30, 2007

    For the record, I am in favor of gay marriage, drug legalization, more open borders, and I’m pro-choice. Tell me some more about how “right wing” I am.

    There are people in the United States who think about their political positions. Then there are Democrats and Republicans.

  104. #104 Justin Moretti
    October 30, 2007

    Jack, you carry “tolerance and compassion” to ridiculous extremes.

    You have no right to tell others how to live. You have no right to tell a taxi driver he is unfit for his job because he refuses to transport alcohol for you.

    I think these two statements contradict each other. Just because I followed a religion which forbids me doing a certain thing, would not mean that I had a right to deny the services of my profession to those who do. If I were a taxi driver, it is the passengers I would be carrying first and foremost; what they have on them is irrelevant if they are not forcing me to partake of it, drinking it in the cab (which is illegal in some secular statutes anyway), or vomiting the consequences all over the car/me. By refusing to carry bearers of alcohol in my cab, what I am doing is imposing my beliefs on them.

    Real-life example: In one of my trainee medical jobs, I used to go out with my fellow junior doctors to the pub of a Friday or Saturday night. One of the guys was a practising Muslim. Not only did he not stay home and whine about what a horrible lot of immoral sinners we were and Shaitan was going to burn us etc., but he quite happily and of his own free will came along to the pub, had a good time with the rest of us, and it made absolutely no fucking difference what his religion was – the only difference was that his answer to “What (drink) can I get you?” was invariably “Orange juice.” It’s Muslims like him who convince me that the “Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to carry passengers bearing alcohol” – and all those others of any religion who shy from essential aspects of jobs they have freely chosen – are just whiny, precious fuckheads, clinging to an inflated sense of victimhood.

  105. #105 Owlmirror
    October 30, 2007

    Are you quite, quite sure that you wouldn’t force another human being to bend to your will?

    Excuse me, but aren’t you trying to do exactly that here? That is, force other commenters here to bend to your will?

  106. #106 LM
    October 30, 2007

    My, but this got out of control.

    Look everyone, there is no reason for a pharmacist NOT to fill a prescription for birth control pills because the pill is in NO WAY a form of abortion. There is nothing there to be morally opposed to. Nothing.

    …unless you are one of those crazy people who are against all forms of contraception on principle. And to that I say: Mind your own damned business and sell me some condoms, asshat!

  107. #107 Mrs Tilton
    October 30, 2007

    Jason,

    when I saw your posts that followed your first post, I regretted my snarky tone, because your subsequent posts make clear that your position is not as unreasonable as your first post had suggested. I had hoped to mention this before you responded to me, but ah well.

    But for all that, you continue to miss the key point here.

    [Me:] Note particularly, if you will, whom the Civil Rights Act requires to make accommodations. “Employers” are not the same thing as “people seeking the filling of a prescription”.

    [You:] Obviously. But pharmacists are employed by “employers” not by “people seeking the filling of a prescription,” so I’m not sure what relevance you think this observation has to employment law.

    It has none. But that was my point, of course, and I am disappointed in you that you failed to perceive it. Employment law is a matter between employers and employees. If US employment law requires an employer to make reasonable accommodation for the superstitions of an employee, well and good. That cannot be allowed to prevent — and more importantly, the law does not require it to prevent — people getting their prescriptions filled.

    You said: “… it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” Are you now retracting that statement? It’s stupid and wrong not just because it is illiberal and intolerant, but because it’s dangerous.

    Of course I’m not retracting that statement. And you seem intelligent enough that I am afraid I must conclude you are being deliberately obtuse here. But for the sake of charity, let’s assume you are stupider than I think you are. In that case, would it help you if I explicitly drew (what should have been) the obvious distinction between pharmacist-as-individual-employee-enjoying-the-protection-(such-as-it-is)-of-the-US-Civil-Rights-Act and pharmacist-as-proprietor-of-any-given-drug-dispensing-shop? Even allowing for the accommodation of the religious compunctions of a given individual employee (to the extent such accommodation is reasonable), it is neither stupid nor wrong nor illiberal nor intolerant to assert that a pharmacist (in the sense of proprietor of a business, not individual employee) should lose its state-granted special licence to dispense prescription drugs if it refuses to dispense a certain subset of them (in other words, arrogates to itself the right to second-guess the physician’s state licence to prescribe; a licence that the pharmacist has never had). And that view is hardly “dangerous”; any danger involved inheres solely in letting a pharmacist veto a physician’s prescription for manifestly unscientific reasons.

  108. #108 wrpd
    October 30, 2007

    Some times you do not have your choice in pharmacists. In some areas there is only one pharmacists. Often there is one pharmacy nearby that is open late. Pharmacists are licensed to dispense drugs. They are not allowed to make health decisions, even ones based on religious beliefs, especially when they would go so low to sell birth control pills to a married woman, but refuse to sell them to an unmarried woman or a minor. Next it will be pharmacists refusing to sell antibiotics to someone with gonorrhea because they must be sinners and they deserve god’s punishment.

    There is a word for people who use the calendar or rhythm method. It’s parent.

  109. #109 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    when I saw your posts that followed your first post, I regretted my snarky tone, because your subsequent posts make clear that your position is not as unreasonable as your first post had suggested.

    Yeah, in that first post I said that we should make a reasonable accommodation of the pharmacist’s wishes, and criticized your absolute opposition to any such accommodation. My god, how unreasonable of me!

    Employment law is a matter between employers and employees. If US employment law requires an employer to make reasonable accommodation for the superstitions of an employee, well and good. That cannot be allowed to prevent — and more importantly, the law does not require it to prevent — people getting their prescriptions filled.

    Well, sorry, but any such reasonable accommodation may, on occasion, have the effect of preventing people from getting their prescriptions filled. So may employee absence due to illness. And insufficient inventory. And indecipherable physician handwriting. And about a million other things. This is the real world. It’s not perfect. It is absurd to object to a reasonable accommodation provision on the grounds that it may cause someone, somewhere, sometime to not get their prescription filled. Bad things sometimes happen. That’s life.

    Of course I’m not retracting that statement.

    Then as I said, your position is illiberal, intolerant and dangerous. Pharmacists are not mindless vending machines whose job is to uncritically dispense whatever a physician wrote on a prescription. They are skilled medical professionals. Most of them probably know more about pharmacology, including knowledge about dangerous drug interactions and correct dosage, than most of the doctors writing the scrips.

    it is neither stupid nor wrong nor illiberal nor intolerant to assert that a pharmacist (in the sense of proprietor of a business, not individual employee) should lose its state-granted special licence to dispense prescription drugs if it refuses to dispense a certain subset of them

    That’s a different issue. But what’s your argument for the above position? Why should all pharmacy businesses be required to stock and dispense all legally prescribable drugs (and I assume you mean that this requirement should apply at all of their outlets)?

  110. #110 Liane
    October 30, 2007

    Jack @ #101:
    For the record, I am in favor of gay marriage, drug legalization, more open borders, and I’m pro-choice. Tell me some more about how “right wing” I am.

    Suuure you are, Jack. But since you’re such a “thinking man”, Jack, I find it odd you haven’t addressed the problem of the pharmacist who confiscates someone’s birth control prescription. I mean, if crazy fundie pharmacist thinks contraception = murder, then aren’t they duty-bound to prevent it? So by your reasoning they ought to be perfectly within their rights if they were to tear up someone’s bc scrip. Or would that be insufficiently, oh, “consensual”?

    Oh, silly me, of course it’s only WATB fundie asshats who have feelings.

  111. #111 Bill C.
    October 30, 2007

    “I guess it’s not just deranged protestant fundamentalists”

    That seems to imply that you were holding out hope that Catholics would be less deranged.

  112. #112 Bill C.
    October 30, 2007

    Jack is right, but pharmacists can also be employees of larger entities and they should be duly fired when they don’t. Oh and you’re a moron Liane. Confiscating someone’s prescription is called theft and it would be dealt with by the police. Idiot.

  113. #113 Carlie
    October 30, 2007

    People are perfectly free to conscientiously object to doing things that are against their religion. However, they must also be ready to take the consequences of those decisions. A pharmacist is free to take another job if he or she doesn’t want to dispense medication as is their ENTIRE JOB DESCRIPTION, or try to go work at a Catholic hospital that still doesn’t dispense such things. You can’t have it both ways; you can’t refuse to do part of your job and still keep it with no repercussions. The classic comeback to this one is can a Christian Scientist become a pharmacist and refuse to dispense any prescriptions at all, but still keep his or her job as a pharmacist? No one who argues for the objection allowance has ever answered that question that I’ve seen.

  114. #114 Bill C.
    October 30, 2007

    I see nothing in Jack’s comments to indicate he sympathizes with religious right wingers.

  115. #115 Bill C.
    October 30, 2007

    Unfortunately thy can’t be fired in this country because the Civil Rights Act specifies a person can’t be denied employment for religious reasons.

  116. #116 raven
    October 30, 2007

    CONFRONTATION AT THE COUNTER
    The issue of pharmacists’ versus patients’ rights is producing conflicts and pink slips

    When a Wisconsin pharmacist was presented with a prescription for birth control pills, he not only refused to dispense the script or refer it to another pharmacy, he refused to give it back to the patient based on his religious beliefs. He is now facing a disciplinary hearing brought by the state board of pharmacy.

    Last February, an Eckerd pharmacist in Denton, Texas, refused to dispense emergency contraception to a woman identified as a rape victim. The pharmacist was fired.

    Last spring, a Raleigh man complained to the North Carolina pharmacy board that a pharmacist refused to dispense an emergency contraceptive to his wife and lectured her on religion. The pharmacist was reportedly fired.

    In March, a CVS pharmacist in North Richland Hills, Texas, refused to refill a prescription for birth control pills because the drug violates her personal beliefs. CVS declined to comment on whether the pharmacist was fired. etc.

    Here is what happens to cultist pharmacists who interfere with medical decisions while not performing their jobs. It doesn’t always happen this way, depends on the state and employer. Probably in Kansas they get a medal or something.

    This is just another way for the extremist Xians to irritate the rest of us. Most Americans are sick of them by now, 49% according to a recent poll.

    BTW, on a net search, I found a case where a Moslem cashier refused to ring up sales of pork in a grocery store. Welcome to faith based retailing. Next time avoid the guy with the yarmulke behind the counter at McDonalds. They don’t believe in mixing dairy and meat, don’t you know. Asking for a cheeseburger could be dangerous.

  117. #117 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    People are perfectly free to conscientiously object to doing things that are against their religion. However, they must also be ready to take the consequences of those decisions. A pharmacist is free to take another job if he or she doesn’t want to dispense medication as is their ENTIRE JOB DESCRIPTION

    But they’re not refusing to “dispense medication.” They’re refusing to dispense only a certain very limited class of medications. You’re another one, like Tilton, who is so blinded by anger that you cannot make any rational or reasonable distinctions on the issue. Fortunately, the law does make such reasonable distinctions. I am glad for such laws in the face of fanatics and absolutists like you.

  118. #118 Liane
    October 30, 2007

    Bill @ #110:

    See #114. Wisconsin pharmacist is only facing a disciplinary hearing from the pharma board. Not charged with theft.

    So who’s the moron now?

  119. #119 Anonymous
    October 30, 2007

    Would this “right to conscientious objection” allow a pharmacist to refuse to selling condoms gay people?

  120. #120 Rhonda
    October 30, 2007

    Scenario 1. I’m a lone sales clerk in a book store and a customer comes in and wants to buy a bible. I refuse to sell it to the customer because I think it will be harmful to the customer and only lead to delusional thinking.
    Can I do this? Should that customer then just say it is fine and go to another bookstore?

    Scenario 2. I’m a cab driver and I decide not to carry any passengers who are carrying any type of religious material or wearing any religious symbols. Think that would go over well?

    Scenario 3. I’m a pharmacist and I insist women or men with more than a couple of children who present themselves for any prescription read literature on overpopulation and birthcontrol methods because I think it is sinful and against all I believe for people to reproduce willy nilly in a world overrun by human beings. What would that get me?

    Let’s really look at what tolerance for others so-called beliefs can lead to in certain situations. In the U.S., we officially have a secular society and religious beliefs should be kept personal (that means to themselves and their church, temple, etc). If such beliefs interfer with an employment, either suck it up or go elsewhere. THAT is your freedom of choice. You are not free to impose your religious beliefs upon those who do not share them. I just wish the current administration of our federal government would take the time to learn that point. A lot of blood was shed to win that liberty and we have come very close to losing it.

  121. #121 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    Rhonda,

    Do you believe the employers of a doctor should be legally entitled to fire him if he refuses to administer the lethal injection in a death penalty case?

    How about if a doctor or nurse refuses to participate in a lawful assisted suicide?

    Or refuses to participate in a lawful abortion?

    Even if there are plenty of other doctors and nurses who are willing to perform these tasks, you think employers should have the legal right to fire any doctor or nurse who refuses to participate in these cases, do you?

  122. #122 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    I’m picturing devout “conscientious objectors” in influential positions at telecom companies, deciding to shut down your net access because they find your browsing habits deeply troubling.

    that’s not so far from fiction in this country, and already fact in others.

    Cisco has already supplied the technology for the Chinese Govnmt to do just that.

    It’s a real problem, and likely you will start seeing the siren bells ringing more loudly on US blogs within the next year or two.

    We WILL have to fight to keep the internet open, have no doubt about that.

  123. #123 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    Do you believe the employers of a doctor should be legally entitled to fire him if he refuses to administer the lethal injection in a death penalty case?

    yup.

    just like the manager of the bookstore should be just fine firing someone for refusing to sell a book that bookstore carries.

    the choice is to make a statement through your actions. If you are correctly fired for making your statement, that’s a consequence of your action.

    are you trying to say that actions should not have consequences?

    that employee has every right to complain about the death penalty OUTSIDE of performing his job, but does not have the right to refuse to do the functions his job entails without repercussion.

    if a pharmacist doesn’t want to sell birth control devices/drugs, they are welcome to complain/protest about it OUTSIDE of their job, hell, even teach classes about their position if they wish, but refusing to perform the duties their job entails is grounds for being fired.

    It’s really quite simple.

    I’ve been fired myself from several positions for protesting perceived wrongs of various types. I never expected to be exempt as a matter of “free speech”, since i specifically USED the job position in order to make my point.

    If I didn’t want to get fired, I would have protested the perceived wrongs on my own time. If I got fired for protesting ON MY OWN TIME, then I got a case for discrimination.

  124. #124 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    We WILL have to fight to keep the internet open, have no doubt about that.

    Er, no thank you. I believe I will have doubt about that. Very, very, very strong doubt, in fact.

  125. #125 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    Very, very, very strong doubt, in fact.

    go try looking at the direction internet consolidation is taking, and come back when you have the slightest clue.
    or heck, go take a visit to China to see how the technology works and can readily be applied anywhere.

    what? you think you somehow have control over how the major internet routers work, do you? do you even know what a router is? how the internet infrastructure itself is constructed?

    man, your level of preconceptions are just amazing. I thought maybe it was just related to one, or at most a few topics, like agriculture or sociobiology, but it’s like you learn 99% of what you know from watching TV or something.

    Me? I spent 5 years in IT management and saw what’s coming firsthand. there is reason to be concerned, but if you want to keep your head in the sand, frankly I guess I shouldn’t really give a shit based on your level of knowledge anyway.

  126. #126 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    Me? I spent 5 years in IT management

    Sure you did. Also, you have your own planet.

  127. #127 Date Fingers
    October 30, 2007

    Maybe such “conscientious objection” could be seen as a privilege rather than a right, you can do it but you have to pay for it.

    Let’s say that you operate a pharmacy business and the sale of religously objectionable products account for about 10% of your total business. If you can’t find someone normal and have to hire some jesus nut who refuses to dispense the products in question, then 10% of their pay will be taken from them and redistributed to the other employees who have no objections (and have to do all the work that the objector won’t do). I believe that is quite fair, because the employees are being paid based on the range of duties that they perform, someone does less (of their own choice) then they are paid less. It would be interesting to see how many people would stick to their convictions if there were real financial consequences like that. I wonder if such a thing would be legal.

  128. #128 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    you know what, Jason?

    I could prove it quite easily, but I won’t bother. Frankly, the more i see you respond on Pharyngula, whether about animal rights, or vegeterianism, or sociobiology, or anything, the more I see you really have the amount of knowledge my 12 year old nephew has of most (all, that I’ve noticed so far) of the things you choose to respond to.

    don’t your friends call you on your BS often enough?

    seems pretty obvious here, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they do.

    seems to me your challenging me on my own profession is more projection of the fact that you know nothing about the subject, as appears to be the case whenever you choose to weigh in here.

    hey, guess what? before I was an IT manager I was a shark biologist working with a private NGO, and before that I worked with an NGO working to form a federally funded institute for environmental research similar to NIH, and before that I was a graduate student working on ontogentic color change in damselfishes at UC Berkeley.

    yes, people actually DO have lives outside of your own mind, Jason, and sometimes they actually do have varied experiences.

    now, and probably not for the last time, I suggest you try to get a real life.

  129. #129 McGurk
    October 30, 2007

    Let’s shut down the selling of birth control at Catholic pharmacies

    There’s an idea. Private Catholic pharmacies, like private Catholic schools. What true believers do in their own space is none of my business.

    Sure you did. Also, you have your own planet.

    As long as they were clearly marked, I’d have no objections to Mormons having their own private pharmacies, either here or on their own planets. Maybe a Jesusfish with Rx in it. Just so I didn’t go in and try to get my immoral prescriptions filled.

    All that said, given the nature of the job, existing laws, and the licensing involved, if you are going to work at a secular pharmacy (and I think even the one at WalMart counts) then there shouldn’t be any question- the job of the pharmacist is to fill the prescription, advise the patients, and watch for potential interactions. Either fill the scripts, or get your own damned (or blessed) Church pharmacy, or go into evangelism full time.

  130. #130 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    Date Fingers,

    Why not just let the pharmacists trade duties voluntarily to accommodate the wishes of the objector? You know, “I’ll fill your emergency contraception prescriptions if you fill my blood pressure medication prescriptions,” or something of that sort.

  131. #131 Jason
    October 30, 2007

    Ichthy, was that before or after you were the CEO of Microsoft?

  132. #132 McGurk
    October 30, 2007

    Why not just let the pharmacists trade duties voluntarily to accommodate the wishes of the objector? You know, “I’ll fill your emergency contraception prescriptions if you fill my blood pressure medication prescriptions,” or something of that sort.

    So it’s more of pharmaceutical Kashrut- maybe a concientious objector is less morally opposed to killing unborn babies or unimplanted fetuses (feti?), and more worried about sullying the self with the unclean pharmaceutical dispensation?

    Wouldn’t the true-believer, I dunno, throw himself on the pill dispenser to save the babies? Wouldn’t it be immoral to let the dispensing of haram pharmaceuticals go on in his/her presence?

  133. #133 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    Ichthy, was that before or after you were the CEO of Microsoft?

    it was before you decided you had half a brain in your head, if that helps.

  134. #134 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    So it’s more of pharmaceutical Kashrut- maybe a concientious objector is less morally opposed to killing unborn babies or unimplanted fetuses (feti?), and more worried about sullying the self with the unclean pharmaceutical dispensation?

    I don’t know. If the wishes of the objector can be accommodated without an undue burden on the employer, the customers or the other employees, why not do that?

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    btw, Jason, I forgot to add that before I was an IT manager, but after the shark biology gig, I helped build websites for rockstars in Flash.

    worked on the first major promo sites for NSYNC, Divine, the Back Street Boys (fan club site), Rod Stewart…

    just more fodder for your head to wrap itself around.

  136. #136 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    If the wishes of the objector can be accommodated without an undue burden on the employer, the customers or the other employees, why not do that?

    it’s that “undue burden” part you need to flesh out.

    put yourself in the employer’s shoes. I know it’s difficult for you to imagine things outside of your own head, but try at least.

  137. #137 pholidote
    October 31, 2007

    I’m a lawyer. 23 is about right. 55 is about right. I think it’s fair for the Pope to tell RC pharmacists that doing their jobs properly will send them to hell, and hence advise them to stop. It’s silly, but that’s the job of Pope. I think it’s fair for the government to look at the pharmacists’ dilemma and say, these guys put themselves in an awful situation — do we forfeit the public investment in their training and licensure, or help them out, and decide the latter. But the Pope does not get to thereby control public policy. When push comes to shove, the patient and physician have the superior right to have the required medicine dispensed, and whatever is done to assist the pharmacist must bow to that. If in the end, all other solutions fail, the pharamacists can quit their jobs or defy their Pope (and preferably the latter).

  138. #138 tomh
    October 31, 2007

    Jason wrote:
    How about if a doctor or nurse refuses to participate in a lawful assisted suicide?

    In Oregon, the only US state with assisted suicide, no doctor is required to participate so there isn’t any refusal involved. Pharmacists are required to fill legal prescriptions, though. It’s silly to argue they should be allowed to pick and choose which prescriptions they want to fill and which ones they don’t. That’s not how it works nor should it.

  139. #139 raven
    October 31, 2007

    This is silly.

    1. You are a Moslem grocery checker. A customer purchases a package of sausage. You should refuse to let him buy it or quit your job.

    2. You are a Mormon grocery checker. A customer slaps a 6 pack on the counter. You should refuse to ring it up and tell him he is going to hell. Or quit or job.

    3. You are on orthodox Jew working a burger joint. Someone orders a cheeseburger, an abomination in Judaism. You should tell him that this is against Leviticus and he should wear sackcloth and ashes and make a pilgrimage to Jeurasalem. Or quit your job.

    4. You are a RC pharmacist. A women wants her prescription for BC pills filled and a dozen condoms. You should explain the Pope’s decision and tell her that she should have 12 kids. Or quit your job.

    There is no difference between any of these. If you can’t deal with moral issues involved in your job, you are in the wrong profession. So quit. If you don’t, any employer with any brains will simply and justifiably fire you.

    And it really has nothing to do with Xianity anyway. This is just another way that the death cult theocrats have to irritate everyone else. It is working. A recent poll showed that 49% of the US population was sick of fundie Xians ramming their beliefs down everyone else’s throat. In other words, get lost losers.

  140. #140 Owlmirror
    October 31, 2007

    I can see pharmacists conscientiously objecting their way to obsolescence.

    Consider a plastic card, with magnetic stripe or RFID. The doctor programs it with the prescription. The patient can use it in an auto-dispensary. The machine will deliver the pills into a bottle; label and cap the bottle; put the bottle into a closed tray. It will then deliver a short lecture about how to take the pills and potential side effects (in the patients’ own language), and will only open the tray when the patient presses a button signifying understanding of the lecture and waiver of liability.

    There. Untouched by humans hands; no moral qualms necessary for anyone. What could possibly go wrong?

    I suppose a dispensary filler might have moral objections. But that same problem exists now, come to think of it. Anyway, that’s another bridge to burn.

  141. #141 scienceteacherinexile
    October 31, 2007

    Undue burden…
    Why should there be any burden?
    If I have a pharmacy, and I require someone that can dispense BC, I should be able to hire you based on that. I don’t buy this crap about not being able to ask in the interview because it infringes on someone’s religious rights. I did not ask about your religion, and I do not care about it, I need someone who can do XYZ. Are you that person?
    I was once turned down for a job because I was taking courses at university. But the job required someone at specific times that clashed with my schedule. Sorry, that is what they needed, and I couldn’t do both.
    I’m not saying that an employer shouldn’t try to accommodate (and most that I have worked for really do), but they have a right to hire the person that they need, without getting 6 months in and finding out the person can’t do the job… for any reason.

  142. #142 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    Consider a plastic card,

    consider the internet, where tens of thousands are already ordering prescriptions from Canada using a plastic (credit) card.

    yes, the neighborhood pharmacist is likely to become obsolete.

    not sure that’s a good thing, though, since they often represent the last “check” on incorrect prescriptions, drug interactions, etc.

    let alone the fact that, hell, I like my neighborhood pharmacist.

  143. #143 scienceteacherinexile
    October 31, 2007

    Sorry, my pharmacy is hypothectical if you didn’t get that.

  144. #144 Matt Penfold
    October 31, 2007

    Ichthyic,

    Not only are pharmacists a check against incorrect prescribing they are, in the UK at least, a useful resource for getting help for minor ailments which helps relieve GPs of some of their workload.

  145. #145 Carlie
    October 31, 2007

    But they’re not refusing to “dispense medication.” They’re refusing to dispense only a certain very limited class of medications.

    Self-absorbed much, Jason? If I’m standing in front of them with a prescription and they’re refusing to fill it, then they’re refusing to dispense medication. From where I’m standing your little distinction doesn’t make the smallest bit of difference. Let’s also remember that in the specific case of EC, which is what has caused all of this in the first place, time is of the essence. If it’s not filled within three days, it doesn’t work (because it doesn’t prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, but PZ has gone over this already in excruciating detail in previous posts). In a lot of rural areas, by the time the person has gotten the prescription and made it to somewhere to fill it, a lot of that window has already closed. There isn’t time to go find a more agreeable pharmacy a county or two over.

  146. #146 Mrs Tilton
    October 31, 2007

    Jason,

    I said that we should make a reasonable accommodation of the pharmacist’s wishes, and criticized your absolute opposition to any such accommodation. My god, how unreasonable of me!

    No, you’re right, even your first post left me in no doubt that you are able to type the word “reasonable”. But your bizarre belief that I absolutely oppose any accommodation of an employee — not to mention the arguments you’ve advanced thus far — show that your grasp of the word’s meaning is shaky. A pharmacist (employee) should be accommodated to the extent reasonable. Accommodation that prevents the pharmacist (business) from fulfilling the purpose for which it has been granted a special licence by the state is not reasonable. But then it’s not clear why you are throwing your toys out of the pram here. After all, you agree with me, as your post @93 shows.

    Pharmacists are not mindless vending machines whose job is to uncritically dispense whatever a physician wrote on a prescription…. Most of them probably know more about pharmacology, including knowledge about dangerous drug interactions and correct dosage, than most of the doctors writing the scrips.

    Oh, I agree entirely. Pharmacists play an important role in the healthcare chain. Now, please enlighten us as to what possible relevance that undoubtedly true proposition has for your argument. As I said, you don’t strike me as stupid, so it’s hard to believe you really think this statement has any bearing on what we are talking about. But in case you are dimmer than I think, let me help you. Here are three statements uttered by a hypothetical pharmacist:

    1) “I’d better double check with Dr A before I fill this for you, Mrs B. This seems like an awfully high dosage.”

    2) “Mrs B, my records show that you’re already taking a drug, prescribed by Dr C, that can cause a serious reaction if you take it together with this other drug that Dr A has just prescribed for you. I’d better make sure Dr A knows about this, and see whether he doesn’t think it’s better in this case to prescribe some alternative instead.”

    3) “Mrs B, my personal religious beliefs tell me that contraception is evil, so I’m not going to fill this prescription for you.”

    One of those things is not like the others. Let me know if you need help figuring out which.

    [Me:] it is neither stupid nor wrong nor illiberal nor intolerant to assert that a pharmacist (in the sense of proprietor of a business, not individual employee) should lose its state-granted special licence to dispense prescription drugs if it refuses to dispense a certain subset of them

    [Jason:] That’s a different issue. But what’s your argument for the above position? Why should all pharmacy businesses be required to stock and dispense all legally prescribable drugs (and I assume you mean that this requirement should apply at all of their outlets)?

    My argument for that position is very simple, and I’ve made it before in this thread. The state grants pharmacies a special licence to dispense prescription drugs. No other business may legally do so. It is reasonable for the state, in exchange for granting this quasi-monopoly right, to require that the pharmacy dispense any legal drug prescribed by a physician (subject to the pharmacist’s role as an additional safety monitor who may catch a doctor’s erroneous prescription, yes; but that has nothing to do with what Ratzinger is demanding.)

    Your choice of conjunctions is poor, by the way. A pharmacy should be required to dispense all legally prescribable drugs. That doesn’t mean it should be required to stock all such drugs. It’s reasonable to condition a pharmacy’s licence on an undertaking to stock or procure, and dispense, all legal drugs that are properly prescribed. It’s unreasonable to make it stock at all times a drug that is required by (say) one patient a year; it just needs to be able to get the drug delivered.

    Pharmacies should, however, be required to stock all drugs reasonably expected to be prescribed and requested on a regular basis. Things are doubtless different where you live, but it’s possible there are some places where women want to have sex without becoming pregnant, or are raped. In places like that, it is reasonable for the state to conclude that a pharmacy that does not stock and dispense the common sorts of contraceptive has failed to fulfil the purpose for which it was granted its state licence, just as a pharmacy that did not stock and dispense the common sorts of antibiotics, painkillers, anti-hypertensives etc. would fail.

    You, @115:

    But they’re not refusing to “dispense medication.” They’re refusing to dispense only a certain very limited class of medications.

    They’re only refusing to dispense a narrow class of meds? Well, that’s all right then. If you’re diabetic, Jason, don’t grumble when you come into my pharmacy in desperate need of insulin and I refuse it to you. Insulin is the sole medication I refuse to dispense, so you really don’t have any grounds for complaint.

    I think we’re done here. You’ve conceded @107 that the obligations a state-granted licence impose on a pharmacy business are a different issue to the reasonable accommodation of that business’s employees (and hence irrelevant to your argument about employee accommodation). And you’ve conceded @93 that there are limits to the sort of accommodation an employee can reasonably expect. Taken together, those two items are pretty much the position I’ve argued in this thread. Now, did you have some other point?

  147. #147 Stephen Wells
    October 31, 2007

    If it helps to make Jason’s little head explode, I can testify that I have encountered Ichthyic on other forums, and he does indeed know his stuff, sharkwise. Also I personally know two scientists (one physicist, one biochemist) who’ve since transitioned into business IT for banks.

  148. #148 Ben Abbott
    October 31, 2007

    from the article: One of the store chains, Salcobrand, said the government’s order was a violation of “the legitimate right to freedom of opinion” on the pill. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Chile.

    sigh … it’s very disappointing to me to read such words from individuals claiming to pursue a higher plane of morality.

    Since when was imposing your will on another equivalent to an expression of opinion.

    Suppression of opinions has often been referred to as policing thought. These individuals wish to suppress actions … very different.

  149. #149 JanChan
    October 31, 2007

    “We cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person’s life,”

    If god didn’t want people to use such chemicals, why did he allow them to be created in the first place, and then leave us with no instruction manual on the proper uses of the chemicals?

  150. #150 MartinM
    October 31, 2007

    Do you believe the employers of a doctor should be legally entitled to fire him if he refuses to administer the lethal injection in a death penalty case?

    Was the doctor aware at the time of taking the job that administering lethal injections was part of it?

  151. #151 bernarda
    October 31, 2007

    Once again in the Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce has it right.

    Homeopathy: 1. A theory and practice of medicine which aims to cure the diseases of fools. As it does not cure them and sometimes kills the fools, it is ridiculed by the thoughtless, but commended by the wise.

    2. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they cannot.

  152. #152 Peter Ashby
    October 31, 2007

    A little reductio ad absurdam might drive home the ridiculousness of his position to Jason. Say I am a pharmacist who reads about Homeopathy and is converted to their viewpoint (it is just as faith based as religion). I now refuse to dispense anything other than homeopathic remedies. Is my employer or the body that registers pharmacists entitled to discipline me in any way shape or form or not? Note that to the customer I am still apparently a pharmacist, my shop bears signage to that end etc.

  153. #153 raven
    October 31, 2007

    I don’t buy this crap about not being able to ask in the interview because it infringes on someone’s religious rights.

    It doesn’t. Most chain pharmacies have a list of job requirements. Including one that the drug dispenser will dispense all drugs prescribed by a doc. Or he will be fired.

    Just a part of the job description. You can be any religion or none. That is not important. What is important is that you can perform your job without alienating the public and costing the company money.

    Most chain pharmacies had such a job description anyway. You can bet that after a case or two of religious wackos playing god and martyr they all do now.

  154. #154 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    But your bizarre belief that I absolutely oppose any accommodation of an employee — not to mention the arguments you’ve advanced thus far — show that your grasp of the word’s meaning is shaky. A pharmacist (employee) should be accommodated to the extent reasonable.

    Well, make up your mind. You said:“it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” Are you now retracting that statement or aren’t you?

    Now, please enlighten us as to what possible relevance that undoubtedly true proposition has for your argument.

    It’s a response to your statement “it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” That claim is not only illiberal and intolerant, it is dangerous.

    Your choice of conjunctions is poor, by the way. A pharmacy should be required to dispense all legally prescribable drugs. That doesn’t mean it should be required to stock all such drugs.

    There’s nothing wrong with my conjunctions. It’s your ability to reason that’s the problem. Obviously, a pharmacy cannot dispense a drug it does not stock. Therefore, a requirement to dispense is a requirement to stock. If there is no requirement to stock all legally prescribable drugs, then there can be no requirement to dispense all legally prescribable drugs.

  155. #155 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    To MrsTilton and the other intolerant fanatics here:

    The right of pharmacists to a reasonable accommodation of their religious beliefs by their employers is protected not only by the federal Civil Rights Act, but by state laws also. California, for example, protects the right of licensed pharmacists to refuse to dispense medications on ethical, moral or religious grounds, as follows:

    The licentiate [may refuse] on ethical, moral, or religious grounds to dispense a drug or device pursuant to an order or prescription. A licentiate may decline to dispense a prescription drug or device on this basis only if the licentiate has previously notified his or her employer, in writing, of the drug or class of drugs to which he or she objects, and the licentiate’s employer can, without creating undue hardship, provide a reasonable accommodation of the licentiate’s objection. The licentiate’s employer
    shall establish protocols that ensure that the patient has timely access to the prescribed drug or device despite the licentiate’s refusal to dispense the prescription or order. For purposes of this section, “reasonable
    accommodation” and “undue hardship” shall have the same meaning as applied to those terms pursuant to subdivision (l) of Section 12940 of the Government Code.

    Similarly, as Matt Penfold has previously noted, Britain’s Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Code of Ethics also permits pharmacists to refuse to dispense medications on moral, ethical or religious grounds where such refusal can be reasonably accommodated by their employer.

    Employers who fail to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs as required by law are subject to prosecution for violation of the employees’ civil rights.

  156. #156 Carlie
    October 31, 2007

    Interesting, Jason, you still didn’t answer my question. Can a pharmacist be a Christian Scientist, refuse to dispense any drugs because of his religion, and still keep his job as a pharmacist? Answer, please.

  157. #157 MartinM
    October 31, 2007

    A word of friendly advice for Jason; quotemining works better when the source material isn’t available two posts up.

  158. #158 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    Was the doctor aware at the time of taking the job that administering lethal injections was part of it?

    He was told that the duties of his job are the provision of any medical services he is licensed to perform as instructed by his employer.

    So, his employer demands that he administer a lethal injection to a death penalty inmate. He is a Quaker and a pacifist and he refuses to kill the prisoner, on religious and moral grounds. There are plenty of other doctors who are willing and able to administer the lethal injection. But the employer insists that he be the one to administer the lethal injection. Do you believe his employer should have the legal right to fire him, and that the state licensing board should strip him of his medical license for refusing to kill the prisoner?

  159. #159 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    Can a pharmacist be a Christian Scientist, refuse to dispense any drugs because of his religion, and still keep his job as a pharmacist?

    Yes, he can, but his employer would be justified in firing him in that case.

    I know it is hard for fanatics like you to make rational distinctions, but try to understand the difference between a reasonable accommodation of a religious objection to a specific task, and the refusal to perform a job altogether.

  160. #160 Jake Boyman
    October 31, 2007

    Ichthy, was that before or after you were the CEO of Microsoft?

    You’re thinking of Dave Scot. And it was Dell he was president of.

    Jason, by any chance are you the same person as Jason “Jinx” McHue?

  161. #161 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    A word of friendly advice for MartinM; it helps if you actually read the posts you’re referring to.

  162. #162 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    Pharmacies should, however, be required to stock all drugs reasonably expected to be prescribed and requested on a regular basis.

    Then pharmacies that do not reasonably expect, say, emergency contraception to be requested and prescribed “on a regular basis” should not be required to stock it.

    But even your stated requirement goes too far. No health care facility is required to provide every service that it is permitted to provide by its licesnse, even if the service is regularly requested. The services provided by hospitals and clinics and doctors’ offices differ significantly based on all sorts of factors, including, in some cases, ethical, moral and religious concerns. When a particular facility does not provide a particular service, it will typically refer persons seeking that service to a facility that does provide it.

  163. #163 Jake Boyman
    October 31, 2007

    Jason, by any chance are you the same person as Jason “Jinx” McHue?

  164. #164 Eric Paulsen
    October 31, 2007

    I was have heardnagain and again from conservatives that if you don’t like the unfair treatment at your job, the abysmal conditions, or the lack of overtime pay to quit bitching and leave. Now it seems that the same high minded capitalist hacks think it’s okay to bitch, screw that, to not even do your job if it offends your delicate belief in the great unproveable. What a grand idiological inconsistency. What a ridiculous farce.

  165. #165 Mrs Tilton
    October 31, 2007

    Jason,

    You said:”it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” Are you now retracting that statement or aren’t you?

    Of course I am not, for reasons I have repeated several times. Maybe I was hasty in my judgement that you are a clever man. What part of the distinction between a pharmacist’s business enterprise and that enterprise’s employees is hard for you to grasp?

    Obviously, a pharmacy cannot dispense a drug it does not stock. Therefore, a requirement to dispense is a requirement to stock.

    Do you really believe that? Best not become a shopkeeper, then. As it happens, I have a condition that is usually dormant but tends to crop up every few years. When that occurs, I take two medications. One is normally in stock at just about every pharmacy. The other often isn’t. When I need a prescription filled, my pharmacist — if she doesn’t have it in stock, which historically has been a bit more than half the time — orders it for me. It’s usually there within a few hours, and never later than the next morning. Of course, in the contraception scenario, we’re not talking about rarely-used meds, are we? But enough of what I think about this. You’ve been hitting the statute-books, and good for you. In a moment, we’ll look at what the bits you didn’t quote say about this very topic.

    But first let’s look at the part you do quote. You really need to go back and read it again, this time for comprehension. Here, let me assist you. Look again at what you’ve quoted above, paying special attention to the bits I’ve bolded:

    A licentiate may decline to dispense a prescription drug … only if … the licentiate’s employer can, without creating undue hardship, provide a reasonable accommodation of the licentiate’s objection. The licentiate’s employer shall … ensure that the patient has timely access to the prescribed drug … despite the licentiate’s refusal….

    That’s pretty much exactly what I think the legal position should be, so clearly the California legislature are intolerant fanatics just like me.

    Employers who fail to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs as required by law are subject to prosecution for violation of the employees’ civil rights.

    Again with the failure to distinguish between a pharmacy’s dealings with its staff and its dealings with patients. As the piece of statute you quote shows, employers must make (reasonable) accommodation for their employees’ religious scruples. Well and good. As that quoted statute also makes clear, that accommodation is conditioned on the employer being able to serve the patient regardless.

    (BTW, counselor, are you sure that an employer who fails to reasonably accommodate is “subject to prosecution”? Because I’ve read the entirety of the section of the Cal. Business and Professions Code that you quote from, and it doesn’t provide for criminal sanctions. Don’t know how things work in California but in my neck of the woods it’s nulla poena sine lege. If you mean “subject to civil liability”, say so.)

    While I was reading the B&P Code, I came across some fascinating stuff, right in the section you excerpted. It goes right to some of the assertions you’ve been making. Did you overlook it somehow? Odd, as you’d have had to get through it to find the bits you quoted. In any event, here it is again. You’ll find the parts in bold especially interesting, I’m sure. (For clarity: the ellipses are for the sake of brevity, not cherry-picking. The link above will allow Jason, and anybody else who might be interested, to read the full text. If you think I’ve unfairly left something out, call me on it.)

    733. (a) No licentiate shall obstruct a patient in obtaining a prescription drug or device that has been legally prescribed or ordered for that patient. A violation of this section constitutes unprofessional conduct by the licentiate and shall subject the
    licentiate to disciplinary or administrative action by his or her licensing agency.

    (b) … a licentiate shall dispense drugs and devices … pursuant to a lawful order or prescription unless one of the following circumstances exists:

    (1) … dispensing … is contrary to law, or the licentiate determines that the prescribed drug or device would … adversely affect the patient’s medical condition.

    [OK, pharmacist’s judgement as health care professional. We’ve covered this one, and here you and I, and every sane person on the planet, are in agreement.]

    (2) The prescription drug or device is not in stock. If an order … or prescription cannot be dispensed because the drug or device is not in stock, the licentiate shall take one of the following actions:

    (A) Immediately arrange for the drug … to be delivered … in a timely manner.

    (B) Promptly transfer the prescription to another pharmacy known to stock the prescription drug … near enough … to ensure the patient has timely access to the drug….

    (C) Return the prescription … and … make a reasonable effort to refer the patient to a pharmacy that stocks the prescription drug … to ensure that the patient has timely access to the drug….

    [So, the California statute you cite to bolster your argument imposes (i) an obligation to dispense, and (ii) an obligation to stock or procure (or ensure the patient gets the drug in a timely manner by getting her to another nearby pharmacist that does stock the drug; an additional option that hadn’t occured to me upthread but is perfectly reasonable.) The California legislature must have been ignorant of your ruling that a requirement to dispense is a requirement to stock.]

    There is one final case in which the licentiate need not dispense. That is the case you mentioned: the licentiate is an employee who has notified his employer of a moral objection and the employer can reasonably accommodate that objection without undue hardship and while ensuring that the patient gets the drug nonetheless.

    Other than the fact that the statute you’re relying on doesn’t back you up on any point you’ve raised, then, your argument is pretty good.

    But look, we can cut to the chase here. As an intolerant fanatic, I believe that employees’ religious scruples should be (reasonably) accommodated. More importantly, that’s what the law provides. But it also provides that those scruples cannot be permitted to prevent a patient getting the drugs a doctor has prescribed. Indeed, under the statute you quote, the employee’s right to reasonable accommodation is conditioned on that accommodation not interfering with the patient’s right to have her prescription filled.

    An employee with religious scruples about dispensing contraceptives has the right (within reasonable limits) to keep his conscience clean. If that’s all you are advocating, I don’t see why you’ve been nattering on as you have; few people would argue against you. Certainly I wouldn’t.

    But the employee has no right to let his conscience dictate the choices and actions of others. If you believe he should be able to do that, be honest enough to admit it to us openly. But if that’s the case, most people will disagree with you as to which of us deserves the label “intolerant fanatic”.

  166. #166 MartinM
    October 31, 2007

    A word of friendly advice for MartinM; it helps if you actually read the posts you’re referring to.

    Which, ironically enough, is what I was originally going to go for, before I settled on quotemining as more specific.

  167. #167 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    Of course I am not, for reasons I have repeated several times.

    Okay, so then you do believe that “it is not in the least illiberal to insist that the pharmacist fill every prescription a doctor writes.” “Insisting” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription” obviously precludes any reasonable accommodation that would allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill some prescriptions. You’re an intolerant, illiberal fanatic.

    That’s pretty much exactly what I think the legal position should be, so clearly the California legislature are intolerant fanatics just like me.

    Now you’re contradicting yourself yet again. You just said that you think it’s okay to “insist” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription” a doctor writes. You can’t have it both ways, Tilton. Either pharmacists are permitted to refuse to fill some prescriptions on religious grounds, or they are not. Which is it?

    As that quoted statute also makes clear, that accommodation is conditioned on the employer being able to serve the patient regardless.

    No, it is not conditioned on that. It is conditioned on the ability of the employer to reasonably accommodate the pharmacist’s objection “without creating undue hardship.” The exact nature of “undue hardship” in this context is not defined. But since you say you think it’s proper to “insist” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription,” I don’t know why you care. You oppose any accommodation of the pharmacist’s objection, reasonable or otherwise.

  168. #168 Jake Boyman
    October 31, 2007

    Jason, you seem to be avoiding the question: are you the same person as Jason “Jinx” McHue?

  169. #169 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    Carlie,

    If it’s not filled within three days, it doesn’t work (because it doesn’t prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, but PZ has gone over this already in excruciating detail in previous posts). In a lot of rural areas, by the time the person has gotten the prescription and made it to somewhere to fill it, a lot of that window has already closed. There isn’t time to go find a more agreeable pharmacy a county or two over.

    Too bad. If you and your fellow fanatics succeed in getting that rural pharmacist fired for refusing to dispense emergency contraception, then the community she serves may end up with no pharmacy at all. Congratulations, you’ve taken a town with a pharmacy that dispensed everything except EC, and left it a town with no pharmacy at all.

    There are liberals. And then there are people who call themselves liberals but who are really just a different kind of authoritarian.

  170. #170 Jake Boyman
    October 31, 2007

    Um, Jason? My question?

    Because if you are Jason McHue, aren’t you banned here?

    You sure sound a lot like the ‘Jinx’ who had the PZ-stalking site. You him?

  171. #171 Mrs Tilton
    October 31, 2007

    Jason,

    It is conditioned on the ability of the employer to reasonably accommodate the pharmacist’s objection “without creating undue hardship.” The exact nature of “undue hardship” in this context is not defined.

    See, Jason, this is why it’s a bad idea to base one’s arguments on a statute one hasn’t carefully read, let alone understood. If you go to the section in question, you will see that California law does indeed define “undue hardship”. The section even refers you to the precise locus of that definition in the relevant California code. Took me all of 90 seconds to find it.

    Either pharmacists are permitted to refuse to fill some prescriptions on religious grounds, or they are not. Which is it?

    It is as set forth in the statute you quoted. I’m sorry, I had assumed you’d read it, not merely cut-and-pasted it. Let me reiterate it for you one more time in the (probably vain) hope that the 20-watt bulb will light up for you:

    1) Subject to the exceptions I cited above, a pharmacist has a general duty to fill prescriptions.

    2) If that pharmacist is an employee and has a moral objection to dispensing contraceptives (or any other category of drug), his employer must accommodate that objection, so long as the accommodation is reasonable and does not prevent the patient from having her prescription filled.

    Really, Jason: that’s the position I espouse in this thread, and it’s the position the California legislature has enshrined in law in the statute you quote. Everybody reading this thread can see what I’ve written and what the Cal. legislature wrote. Stamping your feet and insisting those words mean soemthing else just makes you look silly.

    But since you say you think it’s proper to “insist” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription,” I don’t know why you care. You oppose any accommodation of the pharmacist’s objection, reasonable or otherwise.

    I support the same accommodation the California statute provides for. Feel free to continue saying that I do not, if that somehow gratifies you. However, people can read what I have written, just as they can read what the California statute you quote from says. And then, when they read your bizarre assertions in the face of all those things, they can form a judgement about you. Most reasonable people, I think, will concur with mine: you are either a stupid man, or else a dishonest one who fervently hopes the people reading his arguments are stupid.

  172. #172 Carlie
    October 31, 2007

    but try to understand the difference between a reasonable accommodation of a religious objection to a specific task, and the refusal to perform a job altogether.

    Try to understand that refusing to dispense medication is refusing to perform the job altogether.

  173. #173 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    If you go to the section in question, you will see that California law does indeed define “undue hardship”.

    No, it doesn’t. It just provides a vague description of the term. The precise meaning of “undue hardship” in this context must be determined by case law.

    It is as set forth in the statute you quoted. I’m sorry, I had assumed you’d read it, not merely cut-and-pasted it.

    I wasn’t asking you what you think the California statute sates. I was asking what you believe. Do you still believe that “it is not in the least illiberal to INSIST that the pharmacist fill EVERY PRESCRIPTION a doctor writes” or do you now retract that statement and believe instead that in certain cases the pharmacist should be permitted to refuse to fill a prescription? It’s really quite a simple question.

    I support the same accommodation the California statute provides for.

    So then, contrary to what you said in your original post, you do not “insist” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription.” You cannot both support an accommodation of the pharmacist’s refusal to fill a prescription, and also “insist” that the pharmacist fill “every prescription.” Comprendez?

    You also seem to completely misunderstand the nature of the California law, or any law that protects the right in question here. When a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription for emergency contraception (or whatever else it may be) on moral or religious grounds as permitted under the law, the law cannot guarantee that the customer will get her pills in some other way. All the law can do is require that certain efforts be made to attempt to satisfy the customer’s demand. Those efforts may fail in any particular case for any number of reasons. For example, if the customer is referred to another pharmacy, that pharmacy may be closed, or out of stock, or the customer may not be able to reach it in time. If the pills are to be delivered, then the delivery may be delayed. Problems of this type are especially likely for time-sensitive drugs like emergency contraception. So in some number of cases, perhaps even a majority of cases, the pharmacist’s refusal to dispense emergency contraception WILL prevent the customer from obtaining it, even if efforts are made to get her the medication.

  174. #174 Jake Boyman
    October 31, 2007

    Jinxy, why are you here if you’re banned? I really think your PZ Myers obsession is unhealthy, though at least you took down the PZ-stalking site. Hopefully your pastor talked you out of it.

    There are liberals. And then there are people who call themselves liberals but who are really just a different kind of authoritarian.

    But Jinx, judging from your website, you hate ALL liberals, so why should we care?

  175. #175 raven
    October 31, 2007

    Mrs Tilton pretty much deepsixed Jason’s lame position. A pharmacist cannot stand between a doc, a patient, and getting their prescription filled. Just the law.

    Totally blows Jason’s dream of becoming a “Xian pharmacist” and annoying people while screwing up their lives. Oh well, there is always Jesus Camp. Becoming a Xian suicide bomber will accomplish the same thing much faster and cheaper.

    Jason BTW, is a true death cultist. It’s all there, the continual lies and psychotic rage of the mentally ill. And of course this has nothing to do with Xianity per se.

  176. #176 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    BTW, counselor, are you sure that an employer who fails to reasonably accommodate is “subject to prosecution”?

    Yes, I am, student. Civil rights laws, including the federal Civil Rights Act, generally provide for both compensatory and punitive damages against the discriminating employer. An employer who fires or otherwise discriminates against a pharmacist for refusing to dispense medication as permitted under law is subject to monetary damages of this kind, which may be considerable, as well as orders for other kinds of remedy, such as rehiring the dismissed employee.

  177. #177 Mrs Tilton
    October 31, 2007

    Jason,

    there is little point in continuing to talk to you. I will leave you with this small free lesson in the law.

    [Me:] BTW, counselor, are you sure that an employer who fails to reasonably accommodate is “subject to prosecution”?

    [Jason:] Yes, I am, student.

    No, you’re not, actually. Read on.

    [Jason:] Civil rights laws, including the federal Civil Rights Act, generally provide for both compensatory and punitive damages against the discriminating employer.

    If you want to adopt a sneering tone of superiority, Jason, it’s always a good idea to make certain first that you’re not talking out your arse. “Compensatory and punitive damages”, as well as what you refer to using the technical term “other kinds of remedy”, are not the result of prosecution. They are the result of civil litigation, a very different thing altogether. The CA statute you quoted, violation of which you claimed would make a employer “subject to prosecution”, doesn’t provide for criminal penalties. I asked whether you didn’t really mean “subject to civil liability”. As it turns out, you did. You just didn’t know it.

    Surprising, really. I’d have thought the distinction between criminal and civil liability clear to any halfway-informed layman, let alone a legal scholar such as yourself.

  178. #178 Jason
    October 31, 2007

    MrsTilton,

    If you want to adopt a sneering tone of superiority, Jason, it’s always a good idea to make certain first that you’re not talking out your arse. “Compensatory and punitive damages”, as well as what you refer to using the technical term “other kinds of remedy”, are not the result of prosecution. They are the result of civil litigation, a very different thing altogether.

    Nonsense. Civil litigation is a form of prosecution. Prosecution of the law is not limited to prosecutions of criminal law.

    You’re still ignoring the matter of your contradictory statements, I see. How can you both “insist” that a pharmacist fill “every prescription” and also support an accommodation of the pharmacist’s refusal to fill certain prescriptions?

  179. #179 brightmoon
    October 31, 2007

    so apparently its ok for this hypothetical pharmicist of yours, jason, to violate the civil rights of others ..i think (IANAL) that the patient can then sue the pharmacist

  180. #180 raven
    October 31, 2007

    i think (IANAL) that the patient can then sue the pharmacist

    They can probably sue for malpractice and win. The law is pretty clear and written out in great detail. There was a case a while ago ago where a pharmacist substituted tranquilizers for birth control pills. He claimed it was an accident but who knows. This is the sort of thing a malicious religious fanatic would do. The woman got pregnant.

    Court directed the pharmacist to pay child support until the kid reached 18. Probably lost his license as well. These days the settlement would undoubtedly be much higher.

  181. #181 Feline
    October 31, 2007

    I do find it curious that Jason insist on responding here, while completely failing to actually read.
    A failure to distinguish between “pharmacist” and “pharmacist” is not, as a matter of fact, a point in your favour, and does render you argument null and void when you desperately try to apply the rules governing the one to the other. Really, are you that fucking dense? (It’s in post 105, if you’d care to fucking read, you dumb fucker)
    No, I really don’t care about you or your stupid arguments in favour of disenfranchising women. Not at all. Kindly piss off and expire, for the sake of mankind.

  182. #182 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    Not only are pharmacists a check against incorrect prescribing they are, in the UK at least, a useful resource for getting help for minor ailments which helps relieve GPs of some of their workload.

    oh yes, that’s one of the reasons I’ve gotten fond of my local pharmacist.

    recent cuts in funding have reduced his staff levels by 50%, which I fear is an ongoing trend here in the states.

    It will end badly, IMO.

  183. #183 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    If you want to adopt a sneering tone of superiority, Jason, it’s always a good idea to make certain first that you’re not talking out your arse.

    but then he’d never say anything.

    oh, wait…

  184. #184 gawd
    November 1, 2007

    well if this is true then the vaticant will have to divest its investments into pharmaceutical companies. that’ll be the day.

  185. #185 Monado
    November 1, 2007

    Meanwhile are dying in Nicaragua because life-saving surgery would harm an embryo…. Pope Ratzi has not condemned this law.

    Last November it became a crime for a woman to have an abortion in Nicaragua, even if her life was in mortal danger. So far it has resulted in the death of at least 82 women.

    And there are people who deny that legalizing abortion enabled hospitals to shut whole hospital wards… “They don’t remember.”

  186. #186 Ian Gould
    November 1, 2007

    “I am amazed that so many posters here claim to be empathic, caring, left-leaning individuals but are always more than ready to force their views on others. If a taxi driver doesn’t want to transport alcohol, it is your right to give your money to a different taxi driver. It is not your right to force the first driver to behave they way _you_ want him to.”

    Driving a taxi is not a right.

    Taxi companies enjoy legal monopolies and various special privileges (such as dedicated taxi-ranks) granted to them by the State. These privileges are granted to them because there’s a public interest in having a taxi service.

    The blind are a prime example of group who are heavily dependant on taxis. Therefore one of the conditions imposed on taxi companies IN EXCHANGE FOR THE SPECIAL PRIVILEGES GRANTED TO THEM is that they must transport guide dogs.

    If a taxi driver believes that he has a religious duty to refuse to transport dogs, he is incapable of performing the basic duties of his position as surely as if he didn;t know how to drive.

    Let’s stay with the Muslim example for a moment. suppose a taxi driver claimed that being in a car with an unaccompanied female passenger was offensive to his religious beliefs and that he should therefore be allowed to refuse to transport female passengers.

    How about a Catholic taxi driver refusing to transport a female passenger to an abortion clinic and taking them to a Project Rescue office instead?

    Or how about a taxi-driver claiming the right to refuse to transport African-Americans because he thinks they might endanger his life by attempting to mug him?

  187. #187 Ian Gould
    November 1, 2007

    “But they’re not refusing to “dispense medication.” They’re refusing to dispense only a certain very limited class of medications.”

    And a member of the Worldwide Church of the Creator who refused to fill prescriptions for Jews would only be refusing to dispense drugs to a very limited class of people.

  188. #188 J Green
    November 1, 2007

    When precisely did the anti-Christ take over the Christian religion? Maybe it was him that formed it, in an effort to lead people astray from God!

  189. #189 Russell Blackford
    November 2, 2007

    I haven’t read every comment, but having got a certain way into the thread I must point out that it’s often forgetten just how miserable – and IMNSHO disgusting and demeaning – traditional Catholic (and hence Christian) moral teaching is. If you go back to Augustine and Aquinas, it becomes very clear that the sharing of sexual pleasure is essentially sinful and is redeemed only by its procreative potential. Sex using contraception – along with masturbation, or any kind of gay sex, or any practice such as blowjobs, handjobs, or whatever-other-bit-jobs – is just plain sinful. In fact, Aquinas says that these are about the most serious sins imaginable, short of murder.

    Modern doctrine does actually rationalise and soften all this a bit, but a hatred of sex, sexual pleasure, and the human body is grounded deep in the Christian, and especially Catholic, tradition, in the works of the great fathers of the Church. This hatred continues to influence the modern teachings. Miserable, medieval morality – preserved by Christian moral teachings – really does poison everything.

  190. #190 Ichthyic
    November 2, 2007

    I said, a while back:

    We WILL have to fight to keep the internet open, have no doubt about that.

    and Jason the ever superficially informed responded:

    Er, no thank you. I believe I will have doubt about that. Very, very, very strong doubt, in fact.

    not that I think Jason is trolling this thread anymore…

    but just in case, this just popped up in the major tech news for today (again, not that I think Jason ever bothers to keep track of the things he tries to expound on):

    http://www.news.com/Thanks-to-BitTorrrent,-Net-neutrality-debate-reignites/2100-1034_3-6216750.html

    he controversial issue of Net neutrality is surfacing again amid allegations that phone companies and cable operators are throttling BitTorrent traffic and perhaps even censoring politically charged language.

    seriously, this is an issue happening as I write this, and those interested in the issue of net neutrality (or who think they might be) should take a bit of time to familiarize, before the issue is decided for us all by the big telecom cos., and we end up with an internet that starts to look more and more like cable news.

    now, don’t think this has to do with just “file sharing” issues, and only applies to “pirates”, otherwise one could make the same conclusion about the illegal wiretapping by the current administration.

    It’s about control of a currently open and (relatively) uncontrolled medium.

  191. #191 frog
    November 2, 2007

    Someone should implant an embryo in Ratzi narcissistic penis-hat wearing ass.

    How an individual who has avoided reproducing (at least publicly) and the ensuing responsibility has the chutzpah to lecture the rest of the human race on responsible breeding is just so far beyond the pale, that it brings into question if the man has an ounce of integrity or human empathy in his soul.

    Of course, we don’t need to ask that question – we know the answer from his treatment of Hans Kung, his mentor in his academic career. For those who have managed to avoid that sordid story, Hans Kung is a famed liberal Catholic theologian/philosopher. Back in the 70’s (I believe), young Ratzi was unable to find a job – his brand of conservatism wasn’t in style. The generous Hans hooked him up with an academic position which allowed the young Ratzi to flourish.

    Well, old Wojt hired Ratzi to spruce up the office of the Inquisition, which had been getting a bit dusty. Ratzi soon after decided that a prime target would be his old mentor, now that the right was in ascendance. Silenced him for a year.

    This is actually a morally important story. Intolerance of the intolerant is not only allowable, it is morally demanded. To give the keys of the kingdom to the intolerant in the name of diversity is simply insane. We have no duty to give rights to those who would deny us of rights – symmetry and reciprocity is not only practical, but history shows it to be the underpinning of justice and therefore essential to morality.

    And ol’ Ratzi would just laugh – “No one ever expects the Austrian Inquisition!”

  192. #192 frog
    November 2, 2007

    I have a simple solution to the “Pharmacist’s Dilemma”. Make them legally liable for their decision – like MD’s are. In this case, if a pharmacist, understanding that his job would include the morning after pill, condoms, etc – refused to give such treatment, resulting in a pregnancy, the pharmacist would become legally liable for that pregnancy.

    In other words, he just adopted himself an embryo. It would be the “moral” thing to do – he just saved that there ovum, someone’s got to care for it and the parents obviously don’t want it. A good Christian would be more than happy to adopt that cute little blastocyst.

    Now, if the pharmacist were male, where could he keep it?

  193. #193 Ichthyic
    November 2, 2007

    For those who have managed to avoid that sordid story, Hans Kung is a famed liberal Catholic theologian/philosopher. Back in the 70’s (I believe), young Ratzi was unable to find a job – his brand of conservatism wasn’t in style. The generous Hans hooked him up with an academic position which allowed the young Ratzi to flourish.

    hmm, reminds me of what Marks tried to do for Dembski back at Baylor with the “informatics lab”.

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