I know that the headline of this post sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Arizona recently passed a law that allows health care workers and pharmacists to refuse women access to reproductive health care if they feel that it goes against their conscience. The state’s bill is no different than the federal guidelines that say the same thing. If a pharmacists feels that it is immoral to fill a prescription for birth control or emergency contraception, they can do so. And if a doctor feels that it’s immoral to prescribe birth control to a woman, they can do so. USA Today has a story of one doctor who did just that.
Faced with a request to give an unmarried female patient a prescription for birth control pills, Dr. Michele Phillips looked to her conscience for the answer.
“I’m not going to give any kind of medication I see as harmful,” said Phillips of San Antonio. The drugs would not protect her patient from “emotional trauma from multiple partners,” Phillips reasoned, or sexually transmitted diseases. “I could not ethically give that type of medication to a single woman.”
Which brings me back to my question: are conscience clauses ethical? I don’t think they are. If I go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription, the pharmacist should fill the prescription – that’s their job. If I ask for an over the counter medicine like Plan B, they should give it to me – no questions asked. If I, Goddess forbid, were to get raped and wind up in an emergency room, they sure as hell better give me emergency contraception if I ask for it. It’s not the business of doctors, nurses, or pharmacists to impose a sense of morality on the world. If that’s what they want to do for a job, they should have gone into the ministry instead of the health care industry. [Read more...]