Thursday, April 07, 2005

Conscience Clauses: Let Businesses Decide

Yami from Greengabbro and Amanda from Pandagon have recently blogged about "conscience clauses". Should laws protect pharmacists who don't want to fill birth control prescriptions? Or should a business have the right to fire them for refusing?

This one is a no-brainer for me: let the businesses decide. Here's basically what I said in my comments on the other blogs:

Why do Republicans support "conscience clauses"? A Republican should support the right of businesses to make the decision, and the state should have nothing to say about it. Suppose I’m working as a cashier at Target and I’m morally opposed to selling Maxim magazine, or condoms, or alcohol. Do I get a conscience clause? No. Target can tell me to sell the stuff or be fired. That’s their right!

There are some pharmacies who will voluntarily allow conscience clauses. But most will want to do what’s best for their business, which is to require their pharmacists to sell all the products they offer. Otherwise, a customer will patron another pharmacy where she doesn’t have to deal with the bullshit. And that means another pharmacy will get the rest of her business too– meaning all the other items she buys when she stops in to get her birth control.

Funny how some Republicans hail the free market only when it suits them.

Interesting coincidence ... I blogged about this same thing this morning, but in response to a liberal (dunno if he's a Democrat or not, but it sounds as though he is).
"Let the business decide..."

Are there ANY limits to this maxim, for y'all? I'd be curious to know if you think that there are, and what they are, if so.
In the case where we have a totally free market in pharmacies with no gov't regulation, I'd agree with you 100%.

HOWEVER, given the fact that we do have State Boards that license and set standards for pharmacists, I am in favor of these licenses not being meaningless. The purpose of the license, in part, is to advertise compliance with a standard of service set forth by the board. So long as this license is used to legitimize that pharmacy's practice, I believe we have a responsibility to ensure that the license gives accurate, fair info to the consumer. This means that the same services and products should be available regardless of the licensee if the licensee is going to have a gov't privilege of being a gatekeeper to drugs.

Personally, I'd prefer a situation where women are not subject to whims of bible thumpers, and medicines - especially contraception - are available without gatekeepers, over the counter.
And how pissed off would everyone be if they stopped dispensing Viagra? Then I think we'll see an uproar over these self-righteous asshole pharmacists telling people what they can and can't do in their private lives. But only then....
I favor replealing laws making it illegal to obtain drugs without prescription.
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