Total Transformation sent along “Keep Your Laws off My Doggie,” which parodies the pro-abortion movement. Ironically, Feministing complains that there is more uproar over dog fighting than domestic violence. (Perhaps they agree with Peter Singer: eating meat = bad; abusing animals = bad; infanticide = okay; euthanasia = okay.)
Plan B, the free market, and regulation: PatHMV said this, in regards to Plan B:
When the stories of the pharmacists refusing to dispense Plan B first came up, I tended to side with the point you make, that they should have freedom of conscience.
Then the stories came out about Muslim taxi drivers refusing to carry passengers carrying liquor, perhaps ultimately even refusing to carry female passengers too “provocatively” dressed.
Try as I might, I can’t come up with a truly principled distinction which would allow us to permit the one and deny the other their religious freedom to choose whom to serve and for what reasons. I think we have to say that if you’re going to hold yourself out as serving the general public, your first loyalty needs to be to performing that service, not picking and choosing based on whatever your religious beliefs happen to be.
This begs the question: is there a principled distinction to be made between taxi drivers and pharmacists? Between liquor and Plan B?
Minnesota recently passed legislation that imposes stronger penalties against taxi driver who refuse service to passengers for “unwarranted reasons” (i.e. some reason other than fear of bodily injury). Formerly, taxi drivers were required to return to the back of the queue if they refused service; now, they may lose their licenses. As noted in the comments on the Plan B thread, state governments heavily regulate the taxi industry and often limit the number of licenses. This serves to undermine free-market solutions to the problem.
As Pat pointed out, it is difficult to determine what actions are a valid exercise of religious activity. The Koran prohibits imbibing alcohol, but not all Muslims agree that this should proscribe taxi drivers from carrying intoxicated passengers. Religious exceptions to otherwise-prohibited activities are also difficult: consider Oregon v. Smith (peyote) and Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye (animal sacrifices).
The Plan B issue, however, is not necessarily religious in nature. There are very valid secular reasons for pharmacists to refuse to dispense Plan B. Much as they could (and, perhaps, should) refuse to dispense a medication that they know would be used to harm another person, or would have harmful interactions, they can refuse to dispense Plan B, which, by definition, may cause the death of another human. The oath that pharmacists take requires them to act with dignity and conscience. Psychiatrists have an affirmative duty to warn; pharmacists must tell pregnant women about the effects of prescribed medications upon their developing children. Shortly after Roe v. Wade, Congress passed the first Conscience Clause laws, which allows health care providers to refuse to provide abortion and sterlisation services if it is against their religious or moral beliefs. Most states followed suit. It is not a stretch of these doctrines to determine that a pharmacist has a duty to a just-conceived child, and may act in accordance with that duty.
Now, one could argue that psychiatrists should not have a duty to warn third parties of possible harm, or that physicians should be required to perform sterlisation services; however, a government mandate that pharmacists endanger just-conceived humans is a radical departure from our thinking about the duty of physicians to third parties.
There is a free-market solution to this issue: individual pharmacies can contract with pharmacists to either require them to dispense Plan B; allow them to find another pharmacist to dispense it; or allow them to send customers elsewhere. (Conscience Clauses undermine this free-market effort, as they prohibit businesses from requiring pharmacists to fill the prescriptions. The absence of a Conscience Clause, however, does not mean that the government will necessarily mandate that the drug be dispensed.)
Women would only have to determine beforehand whether or not the pharmacy stocks the drug, and, if so, if the pharmacist on staff will dispense it. Women are not such frail or incapable creatures that they cannot call a store before driving there. Furthermore, the drug has a long shelf life and doctors will prescribe it for emergencies; nothing is preventing a sexually active woman from getting the drug before she needs it.
Ruckus away in the comment section.