Priorities

There's an interesting article on MSNBC about how the morning-after pill has been quite popular in spite of attempts by the religious right to quash it. I worry less about the ability of the religious right to get rid of Plan B now that I've read this, because of the huge profits it's making for Barr Pharmaceuticals--if there's ever a wedge to be driven between the business conservatives and social conservatives, it's profitability, and Plan B is very profitable.

It was the discussion at the end of the article I wanted to write about, though, because it gets to the objections by religious groups, most notably Catholic, to their being "forced" to provide this drug over the counter.

Deirdre McQuade, planning director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, also expressed concern about pharmacy employees, saying they should have the right to refuse to sell Plan B for reasons of conscience. Some states have passed laws to protect this right of refusal.

“Pregnancy is not a disease,” McQuade said. “There is no absolute duty to dispense a non-therapeutic drug, but there is a basic civil right of conscience.”

I can't say I fully understand this objection. It seems ridiculous to me, frankly. When you work in retail--and pharmacy workers do that, just with a highly controlled product--what the customer is planning to do with the items you sell them is never a concern. Do we really want that kind of scrutiny put on our everyday purchases? Should clerks be forced to ask the guy buying an air pressure gauge if he plans to use it as a crack pipe? Or the guy buying an apple if he's going to use it as a bong? Should any clothing that could be seen as sexual come with a questionnaire attached to ensure it's not used as part of a for profit enterprise?

This is the sort of thing that makes me rail against those religious types who seek to impose their consciences on the rest of us. A non-Catholic shouldn't have to get any grief from a Catholic pharmacy worker for purchasing a legal drug, no matter the reason for purchasing it. It's a transaction, not a discussion of morality.

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