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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bill Would Force Pharmacists to Violate Conscience

The Rapid City Journal says SB 164 has been submitted to the legislature and "seeks to protect people's right to get birth control pills and other contraceptives."

The article says that current law allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication they believe would be used for an abortion or suicide, and SB164 is intended to prevent that law from being used to refuse to sell birth control.

If the purpose of this bill is to force pharmacists to dispense contraceptives against their conscience, as a Rapid City Journal article today indicates, then this bill is completely misdirected.

Here is the pertinent text:

Section 2. The Legislature hereby makes the following findings:

(1) Citizens of this state have a protectable interest in the freedom from unreasonable government intrusions into their private lives;

(2) This interest in freedom from unreasonable government intrusions into the private lives of citizens encompasses and protects the right of consenting individuals to obtain and use safe and effective methods of contraception without interference by governmental entities; and

(3) It is the public policy of this state that the interest in freedom from unreasonable government intrusions into the private lives of citizens, and specifically the right of consenting individuals to obtain and use safe and effective methods of contraception without interference by governmental entities, shall be safeguarded and that the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to recognize and protect these rights.

Section 3. Neither contraception nor birth control, as defined in section 1 of this Act, is subject to or governed by the provisions of § 34-23A or 36-11-70.

Pharmacists aren't government entities. They are private individuals. So this law, if passed, apparently would only apply to government pharmacists. I'm assuming this would be military pharmacists, VA pharmacists, etc.

The only "government intrusion" which may be at play here is the government forcing a pharmacist to violate his or her conscience and dispense a drug they consider immoral--when the customer could get this drug from another pharmacist or order it through the mail.

This bill seems to have no problem with "government intrusions into the private lives" of pharmacists. Current law prevents "government intrusion" into the moral values which pharmacists bring to their job (do you want service from an immoral pharmacist?). Any person working any job brings their moral values to that job. To cause someone to violate their conscience or lose their job is particularly reprehensible.

Opponents of laws protecting pharmacists and their right of conscience claim the pharmacist is "forcing his morality" on customers. But since customers are not being "forced" to do anything, and they can also obtain the product from another pharmacist, this charge is completely false.

In fact, those who want to force pharmacists to dispense drugs they find morally objectionable are attempting to force their morality on the pharmacist. The customer is not being forced to do anything, and not being forced to perform an action that violates a moral belief...but the pharmacist would have someone else's morality forced on him under this proposed law.

If someone's life were jeopardized by an immediate lack of medical treatment, an argument might be made to force someone to violate conscience (for whatever reason) in order to save a life. But that isn't even remotely the case here.

If they want a bill that would prevent pharmacists from refusing to sell birth control, lawmakers are entitled to pursue such a bill, as ill-advised as it might be. But this bill, as stated, doesn't even do that.

But it can easily be argued that the current law already covers some birth control. You may not be aware, but some forms of contraceptives prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. This would constitute the abortion of a unique human being, with unique DNA from the moment of conception.

Section 3 of SB 164 attempts to say that "Neither contraception nor birth control...is subject to or governed by the provisions of § 34-23A or 36-11-70."

36-11-70 says "No pharmacist may be required to dispense medication if there is reason to believe that the medication would be used to...Destroy an unborn child as defined in subdivision 22-1-2(50A)."

Yet 22-1-2(50A) defines an "unborn child" thusly: "'Unborn child,' an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth."

So, since some forms of birth control can cause the abortion of a fertilized egg by preventing implantation in the uterus, SB 164 is attempting to rewrite or supersede the definition of "unborn child" in South Dakota Codified Law.

Congress is also trying to force pharmacists to violate their consciences or lose their jobs, and Senator John Thune came down on the right side.

This is a bad bill, both in it's wording and intent. And by superseding the definition of "unborn child" in SDCL, it has even more far-reaching implications.

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Carrie K. Hutchens said...

I, too, find their argument odd. It appears they are demanding the right of "pro-choice" only for those who agree with them.

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