Major Outrage

I have a friend who needs to have a test done tomorrow. Her doctor wrote a prescription that she is supposed to take before the test. Because the medication is also taken the night before an abortion, the doctor wrote on the prescription “to be taken the night before XYZ exam.” The doctor explained that she did that because sometimes “the pharmacists will give you a hard time otherwise.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

I think abortion is a complex issue. I think a robust public discussion about it is helpful. Furthermore, I think exploration of very abstract questions like, “Does life begin at a particular point or is it something that happens gradually over the course of months?” can actual help those making these very difficult decisions in some cases.

But, the nerve, the gall of harassing a complete stranger, with no knowledge of what that person is going through, what considerations that person has made–it makes me shudder. (Oh, and from a policy perspective, I think a pharmacist should lose his or license for such behavior.)

3 replies on “Major Outrage”

This is not new. You may recall that I blogged about this in my fair state — that pharmacists wanted to be able to wave the flag of religious conscience and refuse to fill certain prescriptions (mostly Plan B, I recall). I am pretty sure the ending in WA was a good one for patients' autonomy, but this issue is going nationwide.

There are valid questions, I think, on this matter. Clearly a doctor would not be compelled to perform an elective procedure they thought was immoral. Pharmacists like to point out that they are not automated pill dispensers, which is true, and that they also do not want to be forced to participate in abortions. However, giving random health care providers veto power over patient care is really problematic.

It's true that patients usually have access to another pharmacy, but my opinion is that allowing pharmacists to prioritize their conscience over the patient's autonomy is a bad idea.

I do realize it is not new. The Plan B stuff seems a little different to me. Should a pharmacist be able to say, "I'm sorry, but I do not fill these prescriptions," is one thing. "Giving people a hard time" suggested something a little less formal, which to me is more offensive. (And, I'm also sure that is also not new.)

Anyway, as I get older and become more familiar with people having to make life and death decisions, I become more indignant toward people who feel compelled to pass judgment on those making these decisions.

I am definitely uncomfortable with forcing pharmacists to fulfill Plan B prescriptions. I am solidly pro-Plan B, but what is a pharmacist if not an automatic pill dispenser if you make her do this? And to say that Plan B is wrong is not a fringe position, either. I've never been swayed by any argument forcing their hands.

I agree with Jim that "giving a hard time", if that's what it is, is kind of insane. Either you, as a pharmacist or a human, can't participate in the dispensing of some medication or you can. I think either decision is an ethical one. To decide that you'll dispense it, but with a little moral admonition to go with it is plainly wrong.

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