Monday, June 16, 2008
Christianist or Pharmacist?

The Washington Post reports today that a new pharmacy is opening in NoVA--one which will not sell contraceptives. These folks are calling themselves "pro-life" (who do they think they kidding?) but what they really are is anti-woman. Which brings us back to misogyny (no, I'm not going to get into the nomination again, but it's just another example of how endemic it is) that masquerades as something else. [btw, check out the photo of the pharmacist dude--scary-lookin' child-porn-viewin' creep, or what? and why do these fanatics always look like that? Oh.]

Can they get away with this? Pharmacies are businesses of public accommodation, and so federal anti-discrimination laws apply. But... is it discrimination to refuse to dispense some legal medications? And so, do anti-disc laws apply in this instance? maybe not, if they clearly label themselves as christianist anti-contraceptive drugstores--they might then not really be a pharmacy, but a more limited-purpose dispensary, akin to a Chinese medicine apothecary. And since they don't sell condoms, they can argue (though perhaps not effectively?) that they don't discriminate against women (tho they do, apparently, sell viagra. Hmm).

Pharmacists' "conscience clause" laws that have been pushed through state legislatures by christianist extremists haven't been tested in the courts. But looking through to the logical extremes: what would we do about christian scientist pharmacists who wouldn't dispense ANY drugs; veggie pharmacists who wouldn't dispense medications tested on animals (all, no?); a scientologist pharmacist who won't fill scrips for psych meds... where does it stop? Do we need a different pharmacy on each street corner to accommodate the differing religious views of the various dispensing pharmacists?

These "pro-life" pharmacists are conveniently ignoring the fact that BCPs are prescribed for different conditions in addition to their contraceptive purpose. Is it the pharmacist's role to decide which person's health situation merits treatment and which not? Of course not. It's clearly a misnomer for these pharmacists to refer to themselves as "pro-life"---denying someone medications that may improve their health or save their lives is hardly evincing a reverence for life---a woman whose health would be seriously threatened if she were to become pregnant could be harmed by a pharmacist's refusal to dispense EC.

Luckily, the National Women's Law Center is on it--providing advocacy materials for fighting these folks. As is "religion link," providing a wide range of resources, and suggesting ways for reporters to question (a good way to avoid adopting the christianists' frames) when reporting on this issue (remember, not all religious are fanatics. Some are really nice people!).

I suppose economic reality will prevent either a small full-service pharmacy or another conventional bigbox drugstore opening in the same shopping center or immediate vicinity--so the possibility that people will vote with their pocketbook by choosing not to shop at the drugstore for other drugs/ convenience items, and thus drying up their business is remote. But I hope those folks in Chantilly boycott the fuck out of that place.

There is an online petition here that will be sent to the chair of the VA Board of Pharmacy.
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