Monday, March 28, 2005

ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES brings up yet another crucial point about proposed conscience laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions. I had pointed out that such laws could be used to allow pharmacists to turn down prescriptions for other medications, like antidepressants or steroids. But if the idea of "pharmacists' rights" takes hold, entire classes of people could be refused treatment:

Let's state the obvious: Both the pharmacist conscience clauses and the hullabaloo about dispensing are about birth control pills, in either the usual form or the emergency form, and the conscience reasons that are the focus of legal protection are those of pro-lifers. But for obvious reasons the laws don't just single out this one group of believers for protection, and, in theory, at least, the conscience clause could be used to deny certain types of patients (such as alcoholics and drug-addicts) non-emergency services altogether. It could also be used to protect a provider who refuses to treat, say, gays and lesbians or anyone else the provider dislikes.

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