The Washington Post has an article discussing the consequences of the Food And Drug Administration refusing to decide on the availability of Plan B, the morning-after contraceptive pill: the states must decide on it instead. That was probably the whole reason for the FDA's reluctance as they want the anti-choicers to determine these things in the more wingnutty states. This is what the article says:
The FDA's inaction on Plan B has been sharply criticized by most major medical societies and many in Congress, and led to a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. The federal magistrate judge hearing the case on Friday concluded that the center had established a "strong preliminary showing of 'bad faith or misbehavior' " on the part of FDA officials, and so ordered the case to go forward and ruled that top current and past FDA leaders should be interviewed under oath.
With the application in regulatory limbo, a growing number of states have passed bills that allow pharmacists working in conjunction with doctors to dispense Plan B to women who do not have a prescription -- with Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Mexico and California acting most recently. The Massachusetts bill was passed last year over Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's veto.
While proponents are achieving some success in the more Democratic blue states, their efforts have not been as well received in Republican-leaning red states -- and Barr's lobbyist said the company spends little time pushing legislation in those more conservative states. The director of the Kentucky Right to Life Association said that a Plan B pharmacy access bill introduced this year is not expected to succeed.
"We're confident that our legislature will not approve the bill because we are strongly pro-life here," said Margie Montgomery. "Doctors tell us that Plan B can cause a very early abortion, and we oppose that."
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, has testified against Plan B before the FDA and in numerous states because, she said, easier access jeopardizes women's health and welfare. Women need a prescription to buy birth control pills, she said, and it makes no sense for them to buy Plan B, a stronger version of the pill, without one.
"Doctors tell us that Plan B can cause a very early abortion..." An interesting way of putting it, especially as the Plan B contraceptive consists of your average contraceptive pill, only given in stronger doses. So what Wendy Wright is telling us is that she believes the contraceptive pill to be an abortifacient. Take careful note of this, women of America, careful note. If Roe is overturned the next step in the anti-choice campaign will be your right to contraception.
The other nasty thing about the Plan B fights in the states is that they pit the religious rights of pharmacists against the rights of women to have their prescriptions filled. Missouri is the most recent state to introduce protective legislation for anti-choice pharmacists:
SB 609 - This act protects the conscience rights of pharmaceutical professionals. Such pharmaceutical professionals shall not be required to perform, assist, recommend, refer for, or participate in any service involving a particular drug or device that they have a good faith belief is used for abortions. In these instances, the pharmaceutical professional shall be immune from civil or criminal liability and will not have their license suspended or revoked.
Employers cannot refuse to hire, discriminate against, segregate, or terminate a pharmaceutical professional because of their opposition to any service involving a particular drug or device that they have a good faith belief is used for abortions. Colleges and teaching hospitals are also prohibited from discriminating against any person who refuses to participate in any service or training which involves a particular drug that they have a good faith belief is used for abortions. In addition, they are prohibited from requiring a student or teacher to pay fees to fund these activities.
A party injured by any of the acts described in Sections 338.603 to 338.606 can institute a civil action to recover treble damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees.
What is "a good faith" belief? It doesn't seem to based on scientific evidence. And this bit I find very interesting:
Colleges and teaching hospitals are also prohibited from discriminating against any person who refuses to participate in any service or training which involves a particular drug that they have a good faith belief is used for abortions.
Now, when they use the term "discriminating", what are they talking about? Note that "to discriminate" in the sense of sex or race discrimination a firm must use sex or race as a variable in its decision-making when sex or race in fact should be irrelevant. That a person refuses to provide certain medical services that would benefit the patient is not irrelevant. Consider another extreme example: Suppose that I as a vegetarian get a job at the local deli, and suppose that I firmly believe that eating animals is wrong. Can I then refuse to fill any orders that include meat? And can I expect to be paid the same as those who do most of the work I refuse?
What these religious refusniks are doing is not irrelevant in the running of a pharmacy. If they can get away with this, how could we justify not hiring a Christian Scientist who refuses to prescribe every single medication in the pharmacy? That the Missouri law proposal is only about abortion doesn't matter for this wider question, for what we are talking about is the right of individuals to follow their ethical norms even when that means imposing them on other people who are engaging in a wholly legal practice and who do not share these ethical norms.
Links via this Kos diary.