Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pharmacological Integrity, Anyone?


Imagine you are a young woman, whose boyfriend had too much to drink the night before and came over to your house and insisted on violating you. You are in high school, you cannot support a baby, and after being on hold for over an hour the next morning, you get a doctor to prescribe you a dose of RU486. The doctor thoughtfully called the 'script into the closest pharmacy to the young woman's home. But it turned out to not be a real pharmacy but rather a place where religious beliefs reign supreme, where there is another calling other than the oath that the pharmacists agreed to, where it is more than okay - it is necessary - to refuse to fill this particular prescription. Imagine this scenario and then close your eyes and imagine that it is your daughter or your niece or your sister or your friend, or that, god forbid, it is you. Imagine that you live way out of town, a good half hour's drive from the closest store, the closest drugstore. Imagine this scene...

Something has been stuck in my craw for a few years or so, but on Monday I saw an article in the Washington Post that addressed this issue and has prompted me to pen this post. The issue is one of pharmacists who refuse to fill a legitimate prescription because it somehow violates their religious beliefs. To most of these "professional pharmacists" it matters not whether the prescription is for a woman who was raped by her uncle the night before and finally was able to get in touch with her doctor and got him to call in a 'script for RU486 so that she wouldn't have to live out this crime (of which she was an innocent victim) for the rest of her life (and the potential child's life). Or it matters not to these "pharmacists" whether the woman is married or single, whether she wants to buy birth control pills or condoms, whether she is sleeping with an unfaithful husband, or whether she must deal with her husband's demands with a houseful of children already under foot.

Yet these same people ("pharmacists"), who must obtain a state license to dispense medication, have no problem filling prescriptions for Viagra or Cialis. How in the world can a pharmacist reconcile this horrible hypocrisy? What in the world do they think will happen after a man takes Viagra or Cialis (although with Cialis I understand that it may not happen for up to 36 hours)? A man will look to have sex with a woman. So why prevent a woman from protecting herself from whatever disease this man may carry or from the possibility of becoming pregnant? What if he isn't completely honest with his partner? What if he is on the down-low? What if his sexual repertoire includes furtive interludes with other men in public restrooms? Or worse yet, what if the advances are unwelcome and unwanted, yet he insists on "doing it" anyway.

This article from the Washington Post, details not only the rationale behind these "pharmacists," but also presents a tale of a new chain of drugstores that are being built across the country that will allow, encourage, ney, require, that pharmacists NOT fill prescriptions that the owner of the chain of drugstores finds morally objectionable. It is an outrage, and that is why I am using this small soap box that I have to alert women and concerned men to write to their state representatives and senators and also copy the federal equivalent on your letter or e-mail or text message. Tell them that religion has no place when it runs counter to accepted medical practice and opinion, tell them that pharmacists are free to practice whatever beliefs they may hold on their own time, but that they cannot bring those beliefs to work, they cannot use those beliefs to refuse to do a significant portion of their jobs and still expect to be hired to do their jobs. If they cannot do the work, don't plan to take this profession on as a career - period.

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