CVS doesn’t want people to have sex. But hell, let’s not pick on CVS. Target, Kmart, Eckerd, Rite Aid and Walgreens don’t either. In recent months, pharmacists from these and dozens of other drugstores have been accused of refusing to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives, specifically the morning-after-pill, on religious and ethical grounds. Ironically, none of these stores oppose selling condoms and Viagra to anything with a pulse. Weird.
Consider the 20-year-old rape victim from Tucson, Ariz., who spent three frantic days trying to find the morning-after pill to prevent a pregnancy. After she called dozens of pharmacies she found that few stocked the drug, appropriately referred to as “Plan B.” When she finally did find a pharmacy that carried it, she was told that the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it because of “religious and moral objections.” Any guesses as to whether or not the pharmacist would have doled it out if she was his daughter? About that Plan C.
Now before you go protest at my door with pictures of fetuses and call me a “baby killer,” allow me to clear a few things up. First and foremost: Just because I support the freedom to do (blank) doesn’t mean that I support doing (blank). Am I pro-choice? Absolutely. Am I pro-abortion? Go read a book. Secondly: Plan B, if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, is at least 75 percent effective in preventing egg fertilization with no threat of terminating a pregnancy. According to the FDA, the morning-after pill is safe and could significantly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in teens and adults. Planned Parenthood predicts that greater use of emergency contraception could prevent as many as 800,000 abortions a year. One would think that antiabortion groups would jump on board with statistics like that, but apparently their overarching goal isn’t to reduce the frequency of abortion. They would rather dictate morality.
I would be a hypocrite to argue for reproductive freedom at the expense of religious freedom. That said, if a person’s religious objections to contraception are so genuine that they believe dispensing it is a sin against God, they shouldn’t by any means be forced to dispense it-nor should they be pharmacists. A hospital wouldn’t hire doctors who have an acute fear of blood because they have to routinely deal with it as a part of their jobs. Reproductive rights should not trump religious rights. More importantly, though, women’s reproductive choices should never be undermined by religious extremists.
Pharmacists went to pharmaceutical school. They are not policy setters, and they cannot play God on a whim if they get bored at work. Our society would self-destruct if people were able to ignore various laws and standards on account of their ideologies. Giving pharmacists the choice to withhold contraceptives creates a slippery slope, and it’s not slippery on account of lube. What’s next, a Scientologist who chooses to disregard prescriptions for psychotropic medications? If anyone merits the right to choose, it is a woman.
Nayda Verier-Taylor is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.