Recently, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich filed a rule requiring all pharmacies to fill all prescriptions, specifically forms of birth control, after several women complained that they had been turned away from pharmacists who say they are uncomfortable dispensing it.

This seems to be a trend nationally, as the leaders of Planned Parenthood and NARAL report an increased number of cases in which pharmacists either lecture women about taking the morning-after pill in an effort to discourage them from obtaining it or just outright refuse to give them the pill.

This creates a huge problem for women in smaller, more rural communities, where there may not be many options for pharmacies. If one pharmacist turns them away, there may not be enough time to get to another in order to receive the morning after pill, which must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse but is most effective if taken within 24 hours after intercourse.

It is also important to note that the morning after pill is a contraceptive, not an abortion pill. Common sense would lead to the belief that contraception is a better alternative than abortion.

Currently, three other states, in addition to Illinois, are considering similar measures that would require pharmacies to dispense the pill or find an available alternative. However, legislatures in up to 10 other states are considering laws that would allow pharmacists to get out of dispensing such prescriptions.

So, now women have pharmacists telling them what they should and should not do with their bodies? Pharmacists are not employed to help set moral standards in our country, we employ them to give out prescription medicines. They have no right to tell a woman what to do with her body or try to make her decisions for her. If they are so uncomfortable with doing that, then maybe they need to find a new line of work, in which filling birth control prescriptions is not such an important part of their job.

The worst part is that the American Pharmacists Association supports these pharmacists, saying they should be allowed to “step away” if they feel uncomfortable, as long as there is an alternative source.

This is a horrible idea. I doubt these pharmacists would be truly helpful in finding an alternative source. Furthermore, it should not be the burden of a woman to find a pharmacy that is willing to fill a good prescription. This is even more true in the case of the morning after pill, where time is essential to the effectiveness of the pill. These hours could mean the difference between having effective contraception and having to get an abortion. The personal views of a pharmacist should not be able to change a woman’s life.

These self-described “pro-life” pharmacists are increasing the odds that a woman will need an abortion, instead of preventing pregnancy and doing their job properly.

Another issue is that these pharmacists often berate or lecture women seeking the pill. Many are so timid that they do not have the courage to stand up to the pharmacists. They end up giving up their last chance at contraceptives, once again increasing the odds that they might need an abortion.

The American Pharmacists Association also argues that the Illinois law increases the odds of a patient taking medicine they are allergic to or having a bad interaction between medications since the pharmacist can no longer refuse prescriptions. This is unlikely, since pharmacists can still counsel on medical grounds. They simply cannot put their own moral beliefs on other people.

Other states should pass laws similar to the one in Illinois to ensure a woman has proper access to all forms of birth control. A woman should never be prevented from obtaining an important prescription just because the pharmacist does not agree with her views.

Daga can be reached at ndaga@campustimes.org.



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