Ryne McClaren posts a thoughtful response to my earlier entry on this topic. The question is whether pharmacists have the right to refuse to dispense abortiofacients and contraceptives. His points are as follows:
1.) It's "discriminating" against a legal procedure, albeit a controversial one. If the argument were about whether or not the "procedure" happened to be safe for the patient, then I'm all ears.
Yes, the procedure is legal. People are often entitled to refused to participate in legal activities, as when they refuse to serve alcohol or allow gambling in their restaurants. A pharmacists can refuse to stock Playboy in her drugstore, either out of religious scruples or because she is a feminist. I think any libertarian would side with her.
2.) The issue as I understand it is about contraception, in large part because "birth control" is one of the bugaboos cited by the Globe story I read, not just abortiofacients and "morning after" pills.
I think Ryne is right here and I was wrong. I expect that some pharmacists probably refuse to stock any or some contraceptives. Like Ryne, I am all for contraception being legal and available. I would insist that the distinction between contraception and abortiofacients is important, but the fact that I have sympathy with those who object to the latter doesn't affect the argument.
3.) A car dealer is most certainly not obligated to sell anything, as near as I can tell. But a pharmacist is obligated to either fill a prescription for the patient or to refer them to someone who will.
I'm no expert in the professional ethics of pharmacists. But I know that doctors may refuse to perform abortions or dispense contraceptives out of religious scruples, as is the case with my Doctor. I see no reason why pharmacists should not enjoy the same liberty.
4.) Ultimately, I really don't have a problem with pharmacists refusing to sell abortiofacients, just so long as they make it known to their community and the doctors they serve that they have a keen desire to sit this one out. Likewise, doctors should be able to steer their patients away from activist pharmacists. But if following a doctor's orders happens to be a little too much to stomach... well, we're back to that "new line of work" thing again.
I agree that it is both fair and I think consistent with professional ethics that the pharmacist like the doctor make his position clear. That is all that can be asked of him.