What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Legal vs. Moral

New Jersey law requires that a pharmacy fill birth control prescriptions even if the pharmacist is morally opposed. I presume this means that if you're a Christian pharmacist who owns his own business, you've still got to do it. (I don't know what the penalties are for not doing it.) So ABC's Primetime: What Would You Do? sets up just that scenario, with 16 year old girls walking in to get prescriptions filled while adults look on and sometimes offer their two cents worth, including near the end a couple of Catholic nuns. I hope readers will take the time to watch this video. It runs a little over six minutes with a 30 second commercial at the beginning.



Comments (69)

I feel bad for the pharmacists and assistants, and the problem extends to people in many stores.

There is so much wrong with laws like this. People are expected to act like machines when they are at work. Conscience is an obstacle to performance of the required tasks. There's the sense that freedom means nobody can refuse to provide you with what you want, if they are legally competent. There is yet another proof that everything legitimized or favored by leftists is eventually required by law.

And, lastly, and best, there is the stupidity of a people who cannot imagine a way society might make use of a limited good, such as pharmacists who don't sell contraceptives. It is simpler to make all people do all things. Variation is not trusted, because it is a hindrance to a busy, migratory lifestyle. We want workers, in their work, to be as reliable and predictable as our cars and dogs. Essentially, it is a command and obey culture, from education standards and traffic lights, to chain stores and diet plans. Even play has to be tightly organized. This even applies to Catholics, who are culturally unable to examine their consciences, due to the highly personal and nuanced understanding it requires.

Or was this posted for a discussion on the ethics of journalism? probably ditto

If enough people said no to the law it might have an effect. I can't believe that Christians don't expect to be persecuted, even in th U. S. This is a test of faith. So far, we haven't shown that ours means much. It used to be a faith worth dying for.

The Chicken

Sad.

I'll watch the video later on when I don't have kiddos about, but meanwhile: Some states are moving into this issue with the prescription of overdoses for committing suicide. I believe in Washington and Oregon pharmacists are required to prescribe even when they have good reason to suspect that the prescription is for suicide. As usual, it never stops at point A but always moves to point B.

I wish that the video didn't conflate what are really 2 separate issues: the mere fact of filling a prescription for contraceptives, and filling it for a minor without parental involvement/knowledge. While both are serious issues, there is no way in the video to separate them out, it kind of mashes them all up together.

Most people have access to more than one pharmacy. Most pharmacies have more than one pharmacist. Many prescriptions can be filled by mail. I am going to guess that 99% of the time, a person who wants a prescription for contraceptives is able to get a pharmacist who has no moral objection with hardly even a MINOR effort. Is the US seriously committed to the notion that for a person with disabilities, an employer and a store and a place of business are obligated to make reasonable accommodations, often to the cost of several thousand dollars, for a disabled person, but are obligated NOT to make an extremely minor accommodation for a pharmacist's moral tenets? The only possible justification for this is an explicit attitude that moral tenets are of no greater import than superstitions and personal tastes. This is what comes of teaching philosophy, religion, ethics, and so on with skepticism.

The worker's conscience has a role to play, but suppose my wife and I, non-Catholics that we are, want to buy contraception and every pharmacy in our area is staffed by Roman Catholics who are told they don't have to sell birth control products. Tough luck for us? Do we need to drive to another city...or another state...or another country, even while the product remains legal here in the US?

Or how about if I worked in a bookstore and someone wanted to buy the latest offal, er, offer from Richard Dawkins. Do I get a religious exemption that allows me to not sell his books, or books on the occult or other religions? Or what about Muslim taxi drivers who don't wish to pick up passengers with dogs, even if they are guide dogs? My recollection - perhaps a mistaken one! - is that many commentators here felt that was an inappropriate concession to sharia law. But why isn't it the same, unless we're going to make it a matter of law that Christianity, and in particular the Roman Catholic understanding of it, is true and thus deserving of legal protections, and all the other ones false (at least where they disagree with RC).

Scratch the example about Muslim taxi drivers. While it is a concession to their religious views, they're not involved in helping someone commit what they take to be a sin, so the parallel is lacking in that respect. (How about if a Muslim taxi driver refused to take a speaker to the huge annual WWWtW conference, with the theme being ways to block sharia law?)

But why isn't it the same, unless we're going to make it a matter of law that Christianity, and in particular the Roman Catholic understanding of it, is true and thus deserving of legal protections, and all the other ones false (at least where they disagree with RC).

Sigh. Would that it were so. Even within Christianity, there is still room for legitimate disagreement in prudential matters. Therefore, certain areas of law have to take such things into account.

The Chicken

The book example does not work that well because no bookstore is required by law to carry every book in print, and, in fact, could not do so even if required by some goofball law.

I suppose the pharmacy is being required to carry every drug available for legal dispension.

Actually, C. Matt, that might be a solution - specialty pharmacies.

The Chicken

The worker's conscience has a role to play, but suppose my wife and I, non-Catholics that we are, want to buy contraception and every pharmacy in our area is staffed by Roman Catholics who are told they don't have to sell birth control products. Tough luck for us? Do we need to drive to another city...or another state...or another country, even while the product remains legal here in the US?

The real question is what does the owner think? If the owners don't mind their Roman Catholic employees doing that then tough luck. If the owners are the Catholics, then tough luck. If the owners want your business, then you have recourse. If you want to force them to sell it, then you might as well start forcing evangelicals to sell hardcore pornography at their stores and Muslims to offer liquor at their businesses.

I do, in fact, support widespread repeal of public accommodation laws and of non-discrimination laws generally. I think such a repeal would have a lot of good effects. As long as those laws are on the books, deciding when to grant religious exceptions is a prudential matter, and unfortunately, our system is very bad at such prudential judgements, and we usually get the worst of all possible worlds as far as who gets an exception and who doesn't. I won't participate in hijacking the thread by discussing the Muslims vs. dogs issue. I will just point out that Muslims want to have such things both ways; one of the rules they want an exception to is a reasonable and _market-based_ rule that simply says that you lose your place in line as a taxi driver if you refuse a customer! No one in this situation (concerning the pharmacies) is asking to be exempted from such natural market consequences of his refusal to fill the prescription.

I should also add that states have to have _extra_ laws (and often do) requiring that all pharmacies fill all legal prescriptions. (C. Matt's conjecture is right.) Non-discrimination laws and public accommodation laws do not legally do the trick by themselves. These laws are _extremely_ questionable and objectionable given the multiplicity of ethical issues surrounding drug dispensing. All such laws should be repealed immediately, and if that also lets Muslim pharmacists off the hook for dispensing contraception or whatever, I have no problem with that.

And, yes, Dennis M., if you and your wife want to get a prescription filled and can't in your vicinity because of the free choices made by pharmacists, pharmacy owners, etc., tough luck. I also want to be able to find things to buy in my vicinity that I can't find, but nobody is forced to sell everything I as a consumer might want to buy! That's the way the cookie crumbles. And I'm not Catholic, either, by the way (in case Dennis M. didn't know).

"suppose my wife and I, non-Catholics that we are, want to buy contraception and every pharmacy in our area is staffed by Roman Catholics who are told they don't have to sell birth control products. Tough luck for us? Do we need to drive to another city...or another state...or another country, even while the product remains legal here in the US?"

If you wanted to buy pornography and all the local shops refused to stock it, even though pornography is legal in the United States, would you have to drive to another city...or another state...or another country to get some just because the shops refused to stock it. The fact is, its not the shops problem. Its your problem. The shops should have the freedom to decide what they keep in stock or don't keep in stock. And its up to you to come up with the solution to your problem, not the shops.

"Or how about if I worked in a bookstore and someone wanted to buy the latest offal, er, offer from Richard Dawkins. Do I get a religious exemption that allows me to not sell his books, or books on the occult or other religions?"

If a shop doesn't want to keep certain books in stock it is not required by law to do so. If an employee refuses to sell specific products that are in the shop, against the owners wishes, then the owner can decide himself what to do with the employee. He may want to fire them or just use another employee to make those specific sales.

"But why isn't it the same, unless we're going to make it a matter of law that Christianity, and in particular the Roman Catholic understanding of it, is true and thus deserving of legal protections, and all the other ones false (at least where they disagree with RC)."

I think the point isn't that we need laws that are Pro-Christian, just that we shouldn't have laws that are Anti-Christian. The question is about the freedom to make decisions without government intervening, just because they disagree with or with the consequences of your personal beliefs.

"(How about if a Muslim taxi driver refused to take a speaker to the huge annual WWWtW conference, with the theme being ways to block sharia law?)"

Yeah he can say no, if he doesn't want to do it. But why would they tell him what the conference was about.

Some of the points I made are very similar to those made by others, but I hadn't seen them, as I was writing up my post at the time. No one had replied to Dennis M as I started to write mine. But its shows that we think alike.

Ok, no problem: if RCs manage to take ownership somehow of all the pharmacies in the US, non-RCs who think using birth control (even if non-abortifacent) is fine will have to leave the country to get it. Of course, that's not what's going on in the video. We're not told that the store has any objection to a 16-year-old getting birth control, it's the man on duty that does. It seems to me the guy shouldn't have taken (or been given) the job then.

Should pharm. schools have a religion test then, telling RCs and others who are against birth control they need not apply? Can employers ask prospective employees their religion and deny them work on that basis? After all, RCs might refuse to dispense contraceptives, bookstore clerks might refuse to ring up occultic materials at the cash register, etc., at least if they view that as meaningful participation in evil.

(Yes, I realize the man didn't actually work there, I watched the video.)

We're not told that the store has any objection to a 16-year-old getting birth control, it's the man on duty that does.

That's between him and his employer. If the employer doesn't mind his doing that, then no problem.

It seems to me the guy shouldn't have taken (or been given) the job then.

Why not? Couldn't that have been discussed between employer and prospective employee? How do you know it wasn't?

Should pharm. schools have a religion test then, telling RCs and others who are against birth control they need not apply?

If they are publicly funded colleges, no. That would be illegal, and it would be a wrongful exception to the laws against discrimination to give the colleges an exception.

Can employers ask prospective employees their religion and deny them work on that basis?

Not now, they can't legally, because of anti-discrimination laws. Nor should those laws be individually lifted only for discrimination against Catholics, which is what we get functionally where employers are permitted to fire them for refusing to dispense those pills or where we have state laws that say that all pharmacists must do so. However, I would support the repeal of the laws across the board. What's particularly annoying is the double standard of all of it: No conscience protection for pharmacists from being fired if they won't dispense birth control, but at Target, they have to make a "religious accommodation" for Muslims who won't handle pepperoni pizza. The world is nuts.

We're not told that the store has any objection to a 16-year-old getting birth control, it's the man on duty that does.

We're also not told if the 16 year old has talked to a manager or the owner. They're the only people who have a legitimate right to tell the pharmacist to fill the order or find a new job.

It seems to me the guy shouldn't have taken (or been given) the job then.

Yeah, and what if he were being asked to fill an order for a lethal amount of narcotics so a doctor could perform euthanasia?

"Ok, no problem: if RCs manage to take ownership somehow of all the pharmacies in the US, non-RCs who think using birth control (even if non-abortifacent) is fine will have to leave the country to get it."

You seem to misunderstand the Free Market. If a product is wanted, desired or needed then this creates a market for it. This means that a a business can set itself up with the explicit idea of filling this market. So a pharmacy can set itself up with the deliberate intention of providing birth control. The owner of this store can not be forced to sell his business (this makes it unlikely that Roman Catholics could acquire every pharmacy in America in the first place) and he would could provide birth control to all those who desire it (as long as he doesn't break laws in the process). There are already Catholic pharmacies in some states that were created with the deliberate purpose of not providing birth control.

"Should pharm. schools have a religion test then, telling RCs and others who are against birth control they need not apply? Can employers ask prospective employees their religion and deny them work on that basis? After all, RCs might refuse to dispense contraceptives, bookstore clerks might refuse to ring up occultic materials at the cash register, etc., at least if they view that as meaningful participation in evil."

The owner should be aloud to do what he wants with his own business. If its a Catholic who owns the pharmacy, he should be aloud to decide if he wants to keep birth control in stock. If the owner wants to sell birth control and thinks Catholic employees will be bad for business, then he should be aloud to discriminate against them.

No conscience protection for pharmacists from being fired if they won't dispense birth control, but at Target, they have to make a "religious accommodation" for Muslims who won't handle pepperoni pizza. The world is nuts.

I know. When I was 22, my wife-to-be looked like she was about 17-18 (she's actually 1.5 years older than me). The same people who gave me sideways glances for what they presumed was 5 years difference never thought twice about the absurdity and deviancy of 2 men being "married."

Modernity is a mental filter which takes any logic or data and turns it into garbage.

I quoted this in Jeff's post on the Tea Party, but this post from Vox Day is equally relevant here for people like Dennis...

What the modern secularists tend to forget is that the reason religion was historically granted a special place in society is due to its incredible power, which only the historically illiterate secularist will ignore. The idea behind enshrining the freedom of religious expression into the Constitution was to avoid the sort of power struggles between Church and Church or Church and State that tended to tear society apart. But misconceived confidence in the idea of linear progress through science and technology to a sexy, science fiction secular utopia, in addition to the judicially-dictated transformation from freedom of religion to freedom from religion, is setting the stage for a return of the very problems that the earlier form of American liberal society was constructed to avoid. This is short-sighted, because the easily demonstrated fact of the matter is that religion is far hardier and far more difficult to destroy than liberal society. The logic is simple. If there is no longer room for religion in liberal society, then liberal society will eventually be destroyed like every other force that has tried to oppose religion... assuming it doesn't collapse of its metastasizing contradictions first. [link]
However, I would support the repeal of the laws across the board.
If the owner wants to sell birth control and thinks Catholic employees will be bad for business, then he should be aloud to discriminate against them.

I understand the logical consistency of your position, but as a practical matter, it would be a metaphorical bloodbath in the labor force for Christians.

Okay, I finally got to watch the video. The feminist woman telling the girl she's "empowering herself" makes me feel ill. What the dickens does she know about it? What makes her think that taking birth control so she can have underage sex with her boyfriend is "empowering"? And what about STD's, against which contraception doesn't protect in any event?

I agree to some extent with Tony that they are making the matter unnecessarily complicated by including both the issues of parental consent/involvement for minors and pharmacists' conscience rights. But on the other hand, I think that this shows us something: It shows us that they are willing to say (the implication from ABC is very clear) that the pharmacist should be forced to do it *even when* the additional considerations involved in her being 16 and acting without parental knowledge are factored in! In other words, the pharmacist is a mere technician, a robot (the hectoring feminist woman makes that extremely clear), who is obligated to participate in and enable this behavior even when it is an unmarried girl, a girl under 18, and a girl acting without the knowledge of her parents. This is pretty unvarnished totalitarianism. You. will. submit.

"I understand the logical consistency of your position, but as a practical matter, it would be a metaphorical bloodbath in the labor force for Christians."

In specific spheres and areas of labour it would be, but in others I think it would be a major benefit. On the whole I think there would be more good than bad.

Discrimination against Christians is almost never prosecuted or litigated by the relevant governmental entities anyway (another double standard), so I wonder whether it would make much difference to Christians if the non-discrimination laws were repealed. Meanwhile, we just have selective enforcement, etc.

In any event, let's remember that if they do not repeal the _different_ laws requiring that pharmacies must dispense, employment discrimination isn't even the whole story. Even if the pharmacist owns and operates his own business, he must dispense. I trust that we are all in agreement that _those_ laws should be repealed? (Except Dennis M., of course, who I'm sure doesn't agree.)

Mike T, I am not quite sure that the actual, historical reason those who constructed the Bill of Rights put in freedom of religion was primarily on account of its incredible power. It surely is a very good reason, all on its own. But there are other very good reasons separate from it, like: that people OUGHT to be able to worship God from heartfelt desire and duty to do so, free from coercion. The reason Vox Day gives, the politically pragmatic view of the importance of not creating a pressure cooker that will explode on you, which is valid, might not have trumped the second reason in the minds of those who started this constitutional order.

On the whole I think there would be more good than bad.

We're talking about the same culture, right? The one that says you should be dispensing birth control to 16 year olds, no questions asked?

If you and Lydia get these laws repealed someday, please show some Christian charity when I come knocking on your door looking for work.

The comparison to pepperoni pizza is a little unfair to the law. Liberals are commonly asserting that the Pope is a murderer for opposing contraception, particularly condoms. For them, sex is something which can be refused at certain times, but not in the way that the old sexual mores demand. They are convinced those mores have been soundly and thoroughly refuted. The force of desire cannot be permanently resisted without the destroying one's self. To many people, being untrue to one's conscience is a dubious evil (examples abound), but being untrue to one's desires is the corruption of the person (examples are mocked or condemned).People will have sex, so they may as well limit the harm; indeed, it is a moral obligation to limit the harm.

That supporters of this law will also claim that a refusal to participate is interference is another problem - a mix of Stalinist rhetoric and a level of stupidity which mandatory school attendance and state standards are not meant to overcome.

I trust that we are all in agreement that _those_ laws should be repealed?

Gee, I would support laws restricting the sale of contraceptives.

"The worker's conscience has a role to play, but suppose my wife and I, non-Catholics that we are, want to buy contraception and every pharmacy in our area is staffed by Roman Catholics who are told they don't have to sell birth control products. Tough luck for us? Do we need to drive to another city...or another state...or another country, even while the product remains legal here in the US?"

Let's rewrite this:

"The consumer's desire has a role to play, but suppose my wife and I, Catholics that we are, are professional pharmacists and every pharmacy requires that we sell birth control products. Tough luck for us? Do we need to move to another city...or another state...or another country, even while being a Catholic remains legal here in the US?"


"The one that says you should be dispensing birth control to 16 year olds, no questions asked?"

This is a law created and enforced by the government of that state. I don't believe all Pharmacists agree with this. This was not a law that was put to the vote. Once the laws are repealed, people will be free to turn down the girl if they personally object to her behaviour, not all will, but some may. And just because specific businesses can discriminate against Christians does not imply that they definitely will, most businesses are more interested in money than the personal beliefs of there employees and hence would happily employee a Christian as long as they are a good worker.

The guy that cracked me up was the one in the maroon cap near the beginning who objected to the pharmacist's reaction because he thought it was a "pro-choice kind of thing," until he found out that the girl's parents didn't know. Then it wasn't a pro-choice matter anymore; it was a "problem."

PB brings up an interesting parallel: that force of law requires the filling of contraceptive prescriptions but not the selling of porn in bookstores. Contraception is treated as a medical necessity, when in fact (except for a few rare conditions with which the video doesn't deal) its use is as much a purely personal preference as the use of porn.

Re Tony's concern that two issues are being confused - that's what we would expect from the MSM. In the real world, though, I'd guess that the consciences of most pharmacists who object to selling contraceptives are bothered by it in all circumstances, not just those involving minors. I can't prove it though.

Timon, I compared it to the pepperoni pizza exception _precisely because_ dispensing birth control (especially to unmarried 16-year-olds without parental knowledge) is a far more _understandable_ thing to refuse, a far more _ethically charged_ thing to do, than dispensing pepperoni pizza! It is precisely backwards to say that there must be exceptions for employees who refuse to handle pepperoni pizza (shrink-wrapped, no less!) but must not be exceptions for employees or even pharmacy owners who refuse to dispense birth control, birth control to minors, etc.

most businesses are more interested in money than the personal beliefs of there employees and hence would happily employee a Christian as long as they are a good worker.

I'd like to believe you're right, but in a culture increasingly hostile to Christians, repealing anti-discrimination laws would make life quite difficult for many of us. I'm not confident that we will continue to represent a market too big to ignore.

At the end of the video it states that most of the people involved in the experiment believed that the actions of the Pharmacist were wrong. Buts its hard to tell if they realised that there was no parental consent. It came as a surprise to the first guy and I think most of the others seemed to just presume there was.

Lydia wrote:

The feminist woman telling the girl she's "empowering herself" makes me feel ill. What the dickens does she know about it? What makes her think that taking birth control so she can have underage sex with her boyfriend is "empowering"?

Timon wrote:

People will have sex, so they may as well limit the harm; indeed, it is a moral obligation to limit the harm.

The answer in a nutshell? This gets back to the problem of "strangling water" (to borrow a phrase from the Masked Chicken) -- i.e., fighting relativism versus fighting the culture's sexual ethics. Maybe those of us on the traditional morality side need to present better arguments against the woman's "empowerment" belief. I sometimes wonder if we could just convince people No, you really DON'T need to have sex, about 90% of the dominant culture's fight with Christianity would wither away?

Lydia,

it is the other way in which the comparison fails. For the legislators, the refusal is a grave omission of one's duty to neighbor and profession. That does not apply to pepperoni. They consider the question to be closed, similar to laws against bigamy.
Or are you just applying the "we all have our own truth" style of argument to show the inconsistency and dishonesty of modern liberal thought?

" For the legislators, the refusal is a grave omission of one's duty to neighbor and profession. That does not apply to pepperoni. They consider the question to be closed, "

Pizzaphobe!

Timon,

I'm showing how power hungry they are: The more serious and controversial an issue is, the more it should be understandable that people who object do not have a duty to participate (what, after all, would it hurt even given liberal premises for the girl to have to go to a different pharmacy?), the more serious and long-standing the moral objections to something, the more they will work up implausible and exaggerated outrage over the very existence of people who don't want to participate, who don't want to make the activity maximally easy, maximally normalized, etc.

I'm going to be putting up a post on this soon.

Thank you, Francis Beckwith, for your 4:15 post. That's exactly right.

I run an online magazine with very short (sub-1000-word) stories. About a year ago, I refused to run an advertisement that asked for GLBT-themed submissions to a different magazine. The resulting uproar expanded well beyond a single ad; people said lots of nasty things about me, there are authors who won't submit anything to me, and there are people who won't read the magazine. (Interestingly, one of the authors, a self-described feminist, said that she would submit to Playboy -- though she'd be "conflicted".)

They don't send me stories, and I don't run ads or publish stories that contain things I don't believe in. Nevertheless, there are plenty of places that they can read whatever they want, and I still get 300+ submissions a month.

If there were an antidiscrimination law in place, I'd probably just shut down.

I'm inclined to think that leaving this to low-level market forces is, more or less, good. For brick-and-mortar businesses like pharmacies, I'd add "local" to that description.

In other words, the pharmacist is a mere technician, a robot (the hectoring feminist woman makes that extremely clear), who is obligated to participate in and enable this behavior even when it is an unmarried girl, a girl under 18, and a girl acting without the knowledge of her parents.

Careful what you wish for. I predict that within twenty years a pilot project will be tried where scanner cards will be used to get pills from automated pharmacies. If I am correct, remember to quote me and say a prayer because I will probably be dead by then (sorry, a colleague of mine is starting treatment for cancer in the next few days, so the topic is on my mind).

Maybe those of us on the traditional morality side need to present better arguments against the woman's "empowerment" belief. I sometimes wonder if we could just convince people No, you really DON'T need to have sex, about 90% of the dominant culture's fight with Christianity would wither away?

Bring back nuns in habits. We need people, especially women, who can model virginity and its power to young girls. We don't need angry, knuckle-slapping nuns. We need joyful nuns in love with the Lord.

Against such virginity, there is no argument,

It took me a while to realize that abstinence without love is a form of sin. The problem, today, especially with young women is NOT that they need sex. The problem is that they need something to love, passionately. Men are useless without tools; women are useless without something to love. An abstinence without something to love in the place of sex is a type of abstinence that is unwomanly. No wonder there are so few who would take it up. Ah, but give a young girl an ideal to love and she will walk through fire.

The reason young women have been so easily brainwashed into thinking that they need sex outside of marriage is because of the growing idea that all things are equal, men/women, truth/falsehood. They are exactly equal even if they cannot be identical. The idea that they are complimentary (an idea held all the way from Genesis until the 1930's) has been discarded and with it the guardianship that it entailed. Women were the guardian of love and morality in the home and by extension, society, but, turn them into "mensters" (the DNA of women, the outlook of men) and society loses its guardians. Society is going down-hill today not because men are too weak, but because women are too strong - strong like a man, not strong like a woman. I am against these men's programs to teach men to be men. Men will be men if women will be women. Surely it must have dawned on the men's conference organizers that a man can only see himself in the face of a woman?

If women want to be empowered, by all means - be empowered as women, not as wannabe men. Women have to realize that they have special gifts to give by virtue of their femininity and one of them is their virginity. One of the most disturbing pictures to a young woman, and it is diagnostic for her attitudes towards men, is that of a virgin bearing a child. The idea that virginity could be fruitful is one of the most important messages of the Virgin Birth. I mean, if God wanted to really shake things up, if God really were on the side of the feminists. then Christ would have been borne of a man, wouldn't he? God chose a woman because only she could be a virgin.

We do not need abstinence education, we need chastity education. We need people who understand what chastity is all about. I wish more women understood the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. When a woman who is tempted to give into her desires resists, for that instant, a light shines forth from her which might be the grace won for another to help them resist, as well. When one member of the Body of Christ is victorious, we all share. Society will live or die by the number of pure women hit holds.

We are losing the battle to relativism because we are losing the battle for love. Relativists are cold in their love, but hot in their passions. It cannot be that way for us. St. Teresa of Avila, in the Interior Castle once remarked about people who were not making much progress in the spiritual life: "Their love is not strong enough to overcome their reason." Love believes all. Love can walk on water. What we need are woman who love enough to leave their bodies to another, not claim them in some ownership battle.

The Chicken

Funny how much people think they know about me! I understand the free market (my hypothetical wasn't intended to be realistic), I'm not a secularist (nor I think someone who disagrees with me on these points is a theocrat either; I assume all of us involved in the discussion are somewhere in between), and I tend to agree with those who think that if the employer is fine with the employee not wanting to dispense contraception, that's fine (as long as someone else there will).

What drives my intuitions on this issue is that not all participation in evils is alike. Performing an elective abortion is way up the scale, implanting some sort of birth control device (if I were opposed to birth control) would be a lot further down but still distressing to me, and simply handing birth control pills over to someone seems less significant still. At a certain point, one's participation seems so minor that if it's still intolerable the person should simply find another line of work. Likewise for my hypothetical bookstore clerk working for a large chain like Borders, if he hates helping people purchase books that are in one way or another anti-Christian. And how far do we go if we wish not to help someone perform a perceived evil? I mean, suppose I'm a gas station attendant and I hear the girl telling her boyfriend she wishes I'd hurry up so they can buy contraception. Should I refuse to sell them gas or fix their flat tire?

As an aside, I'm not a fan of the Muslim pepperoni exemption, but there is at least a legally relevant difference between the cases: pepperoni pizzas are not exactly medical goods, while birth control pills (allegedly) are or can be. (If you don't like the contraception example, how about a Jenny McCarthyite nurse at a pharmacy, clinic or hospital refusing to administer inoculations because she thinks it causes autism?)

Lydia,

There are some issues that do not allow for variation, despite controversy. I think this is one, even if the law is on the wrong side. I get your point about the right to not participate in an action, but this is shaky ground on matters of urgency. The pharmacist is likely just a stepping stone on the progress to forced sterilization and the licensing of childbirth. Anything the liberals support will be enforced by law.

FB,

"Pizzaphobe!"

my brother is a pizza.

I tend to agree with those who think that if the employer is fine with the employee not wanting to dispense contraception, that's fine (as long as someone else there will).

So, Dennis, every pharmacy must (and should be required by law to) employ at least one pharmacist who will dispense the pills? That's just so obviously tyrannical, and all the more so since you must _know_ that your hypothetical vision of an America in which no one can buy birth control, even on-line or by mail-order, is never going to happen. Here's this girl in the video walking around being a drama queen (literally) about not being able to fill the prescription *right there right then* and you can't even step back far enough to say, "Lighten up, lady. Ask for your prescription back, pick up a copy of the Yellow Pages, and go somewhere else."

Why isn't the analogy with inoculations a good one? Well, I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. How about because the nurse is factually wrong? That might be a start. And in any event, if you set up some kind of "alternative medicine" clinic in which the nurses didn't give inoculations, I wouldn't have a problem there either. It would be a matter of, "Okay, duh, I guess I don't go there to get my kids' inoculations."

The pharmacist is likely just a stepping stone on the progress to forced sterilization and the licensing of childbirth.
'

That was facetious, right?

Sensible readers of this thread may like this old post of mine:

"Where's My Referral?"

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2008/10/wheres_my_referral.html

Lydia: It's "obviously tyrannical" for a pharmacy (not to be confused with a drugstore) to be required to dispense doctors' prescriptions? What else is it there for?

I'm not sure I understand the problem with the inoculations analogy, unless it's WWWtW doctrine that the Roman Catholic view of contraception is correct, full stop. (Btw, my intention isn't to win any awards from fans of Margaret Sanger. I don't share the RC view, but I recognize that I could be wrong about it and acknowledge even if it has its upside, widespread access to contraception has not been an unalloyed blessing to society either. I'm not interested in defending contraception per se but to push on the issue of what seems like the person of conscience trying to have his cake and eat it too.) Anyway, it's a bit of a dodge to talk about opening an "alternative medicine" clinic: what happens if a real clinic decides they're not going to give them - especially if it's in a rural area where they're the only show in town?

Let's avoid straw man replies, please. There is room for conscience, and surely trying to make a doctor perform an elective abortion goes miles beyond that line. But a pharmacy isn't just another business like a convenience store or a pizza joint, and I don't think the state and/or medical licensing organizations should automatically honor all a pharmacist's scruples.

I sometimes wonder if we could just convince people No, you really DON'T need to have sex, about 90% of the dominant culture's fight with Christianity would wither away?

Probably. The difficulty is in making that case, especially to males.

You might look back at, say, the 50's or medieval times for a standard. But premarital sex was common in the 50's, its just that pregnancy meant the couple got hitched and marriage happened earlier in life. The average age of marriage in the Middle Ages was 25, but fornication prevailed in urban centers - indeed, priests often managed brothels, as it was seen as a necessary evil to combat rape, sodomy and masturbation.

Perhaps the focus should be less continual abstinence and more on "you don't need to be 30 to get married", "kids are a joy" and "you're too immature at 16". Add to that commonsense in choosing a spouse - think of how many people don't even consult their families anymore - and I suspect you'd have a much healthier environment.

It's "obviously tyrannical" for a pharmacy (not to be confused with a drugstore) to be required to dispense doctors' prescriptions? What else is it there for?

How about, to dispense _most_ prescriptions on the assumption that our society hasn't gone completely nuts so that, as of now, most prescriptions may be presumed to be for the good of the patients? Why should the raison d'etre of a pharmacy to be automatically and without question to dispense every single doctor's prescription, even those that are morally controversial and not necessary to save life or health? Heck, my _totally secular_ insurance company, insurance provided by a _state university_, considers birth control pills to be "elective" and similar to diet pills. They are not a covered benefit! But pharmacists have to treat them as so important that they must be dispensed?

As far as the analogy to the inoculation, my point had nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of a pharmacist's moral views on birth control but with the fact that the nurse in question holds a scientifically incorrect view. The hypothetical pharmacist (who isn't even the same as the hypothetical pharmacist in the video, since his objection appeared to hinge crucially on the fact that the girl was a minor) has a moral objection, not an objection based on a known-to-be inaccurate empirical opinion. Presumably, nurses should endeavor to keep up on the relevant science, and my impression is that the claim of an autism link has turned out to be based on faulty science.

I wonder if the targeted pharmacists fit a certain religious profile? If they were all of one denomination perhaps an issue could be made of that.

Related story:

In the rural town of Durango, Colorado, a Catholic hospital is reportedly employing an area abortionist in his capacity as a doctor. Even if they wanted, the administrators can't fire him because of his abortion business. The same law that protects him protects a pro-life doctor who refuses to perform abortions.

Activists claim the doctor wouldn't have a sufficient income if forced to rely on abortions alone and would likely have to leave the area if he were fired.

Is it worse to have a society in which doctors are fired for not performing abortions, or a society in which a putatively pro-life institution must cultivate a habit of looking the other way as it pays the salary of a man who is an abortionist in his off hours?

Lately I'm more inclined to protect institutions than individuals. Without uncompromising pro-life institutions, pro-life individuals won't have a chance in the long-term. Besides forming employees with certain habits, institutions have lawyers, publicists, money and connections with powerful people.

The law cited by the video has eliminated institutional opposition to dispensing contraceptives to minors. It's no wonder the pharmacist looks all alone.

Kevin J., I noticed that back when conscience protection was being written. I didn't know if it had made it into the final healthcare bill or not, but the written version I saw treated performing _and not performing_ abortions as parallel and said that institutions could not discriminate on either basis. I remember being bothered about that at the time but thinking it probably wouldn't make it into the law anyway. I also figured the people pushing for the conscience protection probably knew this and had compromised on it as the necessary price to pay. But I wasn't sure I agreed with them, if so.

Anyway, it's a bit of a dodge to talk about opening an "alternative medicine" clinic: what happens if a real clinic decides they're not going to give them - especially if it's in a rural area where they're the only show in town?
As the father of an autistic child, and one who has tried a number of treatments on the "it doesn't look like it could hurt" principle, this argument raises two hackles on me:

1. Real clinics decide all the time that they're not going to provide some sort of treatment, because they don't think it will be good for the child. You have to shop for a doctor that will go along with what you want to do.

2. The argument seems to be, in part, that the nurse in our example is scientifically incorrect and therefore shouldn't be able to follow her conscience. In fact, for years people in the medical and media establishments were claiming that there was no problem with vaccinations, but the vaccinations still used thimerosal (49% mercury) as a preservative. And, of course, it's not completely clear that injecting children with infectious agents, even though dead, is good for the children in any and all cases. Therefore, our nurse's position was at least debatable, and possibly quite reasonable, despite all of the technocratic opposition to it.

By the way: Hi, everyone, I'm Jake, and I lurk a lot. Catholic, pretty conservative politically, married, eight kids, living in New Jersey. I'm not sure what made this thread get under my skin so much, but at least part of it is the idea that some doctor might write a prescription for my daughter's birth control pills someday, and that some pharmacist might fill it.

Jake, I don't want to be misunderstood. I think that if the nurse is wrong factually that is a _relevant_ consideration (for example, it might be relevant to the employer's decision about whether or not to employ her, especially if the employer decides that she isn't listening to his good arguments), but I didn't mean for it to be the whole of the story. As I said, if some office sets up that doesn't offer vaccinations, this doesn't seem to me to be a problem.

I, too, am very frustrated with this implication that people have a right to demand that things be _provided_, that they be made _available_, even to the point of turning professional personnel into mere automatons. There is a kind of arrogance in the attitude, an attitude of entitlement. And it's interesting to see how selective that entitlement is. As you say, no one treated you as entitled to find a medical practitioner who would provide you with the kind of service you were looking for.

It sometimes seems to me that this attitude of being entitled to "access" arises only in two main areas in our culture: sex and death. There's something striking about that, if one thinks about it.

the written version I saw treated performing _and not performing_ abortions as parallel and said that institutions could not discriminate on either basis. I remember being bothered about that at the time but thinking it probably wouldn't make it into the law anyway.

The law pre-dates the 2010 health care bill. Title 42 of the U.S. Code, §300a-7. I am unsure when this particular section was passed, but as it has the dates of 1973 and 1974 I'd say the law is almost as old as Roe v. Wade. They are part of the "Church Amendments." (Further searching suggests that it was a 1973 amendment)

Lydia, I get that: Neither the nurse nor her employer are automatons, and what they think and how their thoughts relate to the truth matters to all parties concerned.

Another small note:

The feminist woman telling the girl she's "empowering herself" makes me feel ill.

This woman told the pharmacist that he shouldn't be shaming other people and in the same breath told him he should be ashamed. It'd be funny if I didn't know she was serious.

How did it get like this?

I apologize for the comment about my future being dead in my 6:10 pm comment. Weird day.

The Chicken

Chicken,
I've got to say, you write some interesting stuff. Not all of it entirely coherent, of course.

Not all of it entirely coherent, of course.

Maybe not in your universe, but in the Chicken Universe, everything I say is written down by a flock of following galliforms and posted on the coup for admiration :)

The Chicken

Me: "The pharmacist is likely just a stepping stone on the progress to forced sterilization and the licensing of childbirth."

Lydia: That was facetious, right?

Me: This has been the goal all along. opposition to racism slowed it down, but it is picking up again.

Timon, I'm sorry, I'm not following, but perhaps I'm beginning to follow: Are you saying that the liberals' goal is forced sterilization and the licensing of childbirth, and that forcing the pharmacist to fill the prescription is a stepping stone to that goal? I thought you were facetiously saying that liberals think conservatives want to license childbirth. Where opposition to racism comes into all of this I don't have a clue.

Ok, no problem: if RCs manage to take ownership somehow of all the pharmacies in the US, non-RCs who think using birth control (even if non-abortifacent) is fine will have to leave the country to get it....

Let's avoid straw man replies

Yes. Can we also avoid 37 ninjas scenarios?

(the Let's avoid straw man replies was obviously supposed to be italicized).

I wonder if the sideline customers' reactions would have been the same if during the exchanges between the girl and the pharmacist, the pharmacist acted less "judgmental" and simply stated in a more charitable voice "Ma'am, you can simply go to another pharmacy to get it filled." The feminist lady in particular seemed at least as agitated about the pharmacist's demeanor toward the girl as she was to his substantive position.

80% or more of communication is nonverbal.

Well, they did that on purpose, didn't they, C Matt? I mean, they couldn't have had their actor playing the meanie pharmacist behaving _entirely_ well, could they? Even his coming back out and talking to her again. And he didn't try terribly hard to keep the conversation private, either. He could have made his statement one time, very quietly, and left it, but they wanted to try again and again to goad the people around into "saying something," because from ABC's perspective, the whole thing was just so terrible that the bystanders had a duty to speak up for the poor, oppressed girl (the "poor oppressed girl" who couldn't think for herself of going elsewhere but had to stomp and sob around the pharmacy ad infinitum like a spoiled brat...)

Yes. Sorry if I haven't been clear enough. It is a liberal goal, like China, but many conservatives support it as well. The old sterilization programs were based on racial prejudice, even when directed also against the mentally retarded. The new ones will be based on income, age, and the number of children, and will be perhaps more temporary than permanent.

Here's a good compromise: remove the child tax exemption for households earning less than 50k. That way they pay income tax, hurrah!, and are discouraged from burdening society with their irresponsible and dim-witted progeny. Also, welfare payments may only account for two children. This will encourage contraception from a conservative perspective. Also, as this discourages single people from having children, it allows employers to pay less.

Anyway, it's a bit of a dodge to talk about opening an "alternative medicine" clinic: what happens if a real clinic decides they're not going to give them - especially if it's in a rural area where they're the only show in town?

What in the world does "they are the only one in town" got to do with it?

What if a doctor is the only one in town, and he decides to retire and go to Hawaii? Or if the drug store is the only one in town, and the owner decides that he is losing money on the pharmacy and drops that part of the business to concentrate on other things? Or, what if the plumber is the only one in town, and he becomes disabled and can no longer work? What if the bookie shorts the mafioso too much, gets shot, and you no longer have someone to place your book with?

DUH! The law does not aim to guarantee that you HAVE the goods you wish for, it only aims to clear away unreasonable obstacles to your managing to convince someone to provide them to you for a sufficient return for him. You still have to do your own work to convince someone that it is worth their while to do so. The law doesn't force the doctor to stay in business after he wants to retire, nor force the plumber to work after he is disabled.

If the pharmacist is the only one in town (just how many people have access to EXACTLY one pharmacist? What about when he is off duty - isn't there someone else who is available?), what is to prevent you from convincing another pharmacist that there is a good business opportunity for him?

Exactly, Tony. There are all kinds of reasons--some of them far less urgent than ethical ones--why certain products might not be available. And some of these products might even be quite important, might even have medical sanction. Your doctor may tell you that your child is allergic to milk, but that doesn't mean your local Mom 'n' Pop store should be required by law to stock non-dairy milk replacement products! You might have to drive a ways to get them. A doctor may tell you that vitamin D will help with your SADD, but that doesn't mean that any store nearby is required by law to stock vitamin D. And the reason may not be anything heavy but may simply be that not enough people buy it, they don't have the shelf space, etc. The idea seems to be that ethical objections to participating in the dispensing of a product are the one thing people _aren't_ allowed to bring into the picture!

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