ABC News tells a little story about the America I'm glad I don't live in:
In late January, Gene Herr — then a pharmacist at a Denton, Texas, Eckerd Drugs — declined to fill a prescription for a morning-after pill. It had been prescribed for a woman who had just been raped.
It was a "worst-case scenario," Herr told ABCNEWS. "I went in the back and prayed about it a little bit. I called my associate pastor, and asked him what he thought about it and basically he just confirmed what I was already thinking."
Herr went back to the counter and explained that if that if the rape victim had conceived, the morning-after pill "would take the child's life, and I can't fill it."
"Pharmacists aren't vending machines," said Herr. "We have morals, we are human beings as well, we have beliefs. I mean, everyone wants to live consistently with their own beliefs."
Herr paid a price for acting on those beliefs; Eckerd fired him within the week.
Herr has since found another job....
(A CBS story from early February points out that three people at that Eckerd -- Herr and two other pharmacists -- refused to fill the prescription for the rape victim. Fortunately for her, she was able to get it filled at another pharmacy nearby.)
But what if you just want birth control pills? The ABC story says that Jesus might tell your pharmacist to turn you away:
When Julee Lacey, a married mother of two, tried to get her birth control pill prescription refilled at a CVS near her home in suburban Dallas, the pharmacist refused.
"She began to tell me that she personally does not believe in birth control, and that therefore she would not fill my prescription," said Lacey, who attends church regularly and is a former teacher of the year.
Lacey's situation could happen with increasing frequency, since many conservatives are seeking laws that would protect pharmacists' jobs if they refuse to fill any prescription they oppose on religious or moral grounds....
Currently, only two states — Arkansas and South Dakota — have laws protecting pharmacists from having to dispense medications they oppose, which supporters call "conscience clauses" and opponents call "refusal laws." Ten other states — Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin — are considering such legislation....
I'm not worried about "conscience" clauses as long as everyone in America can find convenient alternatives to pharmacies presided over by refuseniks. But as the fundamentalist backlash grows in strength, I wonder if there'll come a day when you can't buy birth control pills, or even condoms, in large swaths of the country, just the way you can't get an abortion in the vast majority of American counties today. I can imagine this day coming, and it frightens me.