Friday, April 08, 2005

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR has an article about the issue of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. There are still no official statistics on how many pharmacists are doing this, but the anecdotal evidence is increasing. That could mean that more instances are occurring, or it could mean that more instances are being reported -- or both. I think it's reasonable to speculate, though, that pharmacists who are fundamentalist Christians are encountering greater support for their stance in the world of right-wing Christian organizations. In other words, they're getting bolder because their position is being publicly affirmed, to greater or lesser degrees, by institutions ranging from the American Pharmacy Association to specifically "pro-life" groups.

It's also possible to track the growth of this controversy by looking at state legislatures. Twenty-one states are legislatively involved in this issue: four states have laws on the books allowing pharmacists to opt out of filling prescriptions they object to for personal religious reasons; 13 states have bills in the pipeline that would allow pharmacists to refuse prescriptions; and four states are actively considering laws that would make it mandatory for pharmacists to fill all legal prescriptions, whether they personally approve of them or not. Then there's Illinois, where Gov. Blagojevich recently issued an executive ruling stipulating that all pharmacies that sell contraceptives must fill prescriptions for them.

And in the Hall of Shame is Colorado, whose Republican governor, Bill Owens, vetoed a bill earlier this week that would have required all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to inform rape victims about the availability of emergency contraceptives. In Texas, this scenario became reality when two pharmacists told a woman who reportedly had been raped that they would not fill her prescription for emergency contraception. To that pharmacy's credit, those two monsters were fired.

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