Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Ethis and Freedom Destroyed in the Pharmacy - Part Three

Pharmacists increasingly have been targeted by abortion rights activists as many of them refuse to dispense "Plan B" because of its purpose and effect. A controversy over the right of pharmacists to withhold oral contraceptives from patients with valid doctor's orders is now growing with great rapidity and rhetoric. Chief Senate sponsor of a Washington bill making it illegal for pharmacies to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, Senator Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey, opined, "Nobody has the right to come between a person and their doctor. We just want to have a bill that will say, 'pharmacists, do your job, period.'" The debate actually centers upon what some are calling "emergency contraceptives," or "Plan B." To refer to "Plan B" as a contraceptive is a misnomer in that the pill actually aborts a fertilized egg.

A number of issues are raised in this debate including the role of ethics in the workplace, the deception in pro-abortion activism, the arrogance of individuals without moral commitment, the erosion of constitutional rights, and the response of the Christian in the midst of such circumstances. Over the last two days, we commented on the first three issues. Today, we will comment on the remaining two.

Fourth, though alluded to already, there is the violation of constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let's be honest: abortion is unconstitutional as the rights of the baby are violated. When the pro-abortionists try to argue for their constitutional rights, they fail on the very principle that we have no right to harm another. If women don't have a constitutional right to abortion, they don't have a constitutional right to "Plan B." That is a cornerstone of a free society and indeed America. Because that cornerstone has been chiseled away with Roe v. Wade, we are now on the slippery slope. Every thing is up for grabs.

More to the point, the constitutional rights of the pharmacist are violated if he is forced to dispense or quit. His rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are all trampled. His right to life is trampled as he must violate the life that he has in Christ if he complies. His right to liberty is violated in that he is forced to violate his conscience or quit. His right to pursue happiness is violated as he cannot enjoy the happiness he had in his profession regardless of which choice he makes. Again, this isn't your father's America.

Mohler also cites Ellen Goodman, a columnist for The Boston Globe. She stated, "The pharmacist who refuses emergency contraception is not just following his moral code," "he's trumping the moral beliefs of the doctor and the patient." Again, no "trumping" has occurred. Refusal to dispense is upholding one's own moral code without violating another. The one wanting the prescription can go elsewhere. The doctor's moral code has nothing to do with the issue. He has not been violated in any way when one pharmacist refuses to dispense "Plan B." The patient can go elsewhere. Moreover, it is no secret that many doctors, though skilled at what they do, know little about certain prescriptions they write. They push the latest product given them by the pharmaceutical company. They do little research on the drugs they prescribe. While many are diligent in this area, it is the pharmacist who is the expert. That's why the pharmacist has a duty to inform if he sees a problem.

Goodman went on to assert that "pharmacists don't have the same claim to refuse filling the prescription as a doctor has to refuse performing an abortion." Why not? We either believe in individual rights or we don't. Along with the New York Times editorial, she argued "there are other ways to exercise a private conscience clause. You can quit. It happens every day." Apparently, pharmacists don't have the right to pursue a livelihood for which they spent years in training and sacrifice, even though women may obtain the desired drug elsewhere.

Mohler commented, "Note carefully that Goodman offered no argument to sustain her claim that pharmacists should have fewer rights than physicians. Her 'you can quit' argument is a consummate illustration of the almost infinite condescension that marks the moral attitude of the liberal elite. 'The last time I looked,' she concluded, 'the pharmacist's license did not include the license to dispense morality.' Of course, Ellen Goodman is ever ready to dispense her own form of morality, even as she would deny pharmacists' right to act according to their own consciences." We would also add that refusal to dispense "Plan B" is not dispensing morality. Since when does maintaining the right not to personally do something qualify as dispensing or imposing morality on another?

Fifth, what should the Christian do? The Christian should pray that the constitution is upheld, that the liberals don't win this one, and that this legislation does not go into effect. They should pray for the Illinois edict to be overturned. They should speak about this issue and exert all biblical influence possible.

The Christian pharmacist cannot dispense a pill for the exclusive purpose of abortion. Dispensing "Plan B" is not the same as working at a gun shop for example. The Scriptures do not forbid the purchase and sale of guns nor does a clerk know for what purpose the gun is being purchased. A gun may be purchased for a multitude of reasons other than intentional murder. "Plan B" is for the express purpose of intentional murder.

If required to dispense by law, the Christian pharmacist must continue to refuse and accept the consequences if God has called him to those consequences for some greater purpose. If not, he must quit (or go to court). That course will be the sad consequence in this debate as most will have to go with that option. It's a forced termination that ought to break our hearts.

We are dealing with practical as well as theological and philosophical questions. The question may be raised, "does an employer have a right to ask his employee to dispense 'Plan B,' and consequently, must the Christian employee submit to that authority?" The question for the Christian has to do with his responsibility before God in this society. An employer has the right to ask his employee to distribute alcohol for example. Such a request is no violation of God's law. The employee must submit to his employer. Of course, if the conscience of the employee is violated, the employee, before God, must find another job. The biblical principle of freedom overrides other considerations when it comes to alcohol and other related issues. The issue is different with "Plan B." In that case, murder is a violation of God's law, a violation of the biblical principle of freedom, and a violation of the constitution. As such, the employer has no real right before God to request such. If the request is made however, the employee is not obligated before God to violate his conscience. He is not philosophically obligated to quit. He may resist the order in good conscience. However, he may be forced to quit if the employer will not retract his order.

These issues should be discussed in the church so that Christians might learn to think and then offer biblical arguments in the public square. This discussion is not mere theory nor is it a waste of time. The reality is that we are already behind. The legalization of abortion has led to issues related to euthanasia, assisted suicide, the pulling of feeding tubes, and so much more. The setting aside of the rights of the unborn is now leading to the setting aside of the rights of health-care professionals. It's only a matter of time before the next issue surprises us and we will be a little closer to losing everything. The "Culture of Death" is rolling in like a Tsunami and if we don't get prepared in a hurry, we will be washed away in the wake.

[Scroll Down for Parts One and Two]


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