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So yesterday I heard the following on All Things Considered:

At least 38,000 Americans are believed to have died from taking the pain pill Vioxx before it was withdrawn last year.

I wonder if, in the five or so years that Vioxx was available, any "pro-life"* pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for it. Or for any other medication that lists death as a possible side effect (and that's rather a lot of medications, actually. Including Viagra). I wonder if any old people trying to get pills for their arthritis were subjected to lectures on the sanctity of life or had their prescription forms confiscated.

Speaking of which, another "pro-life" pharmacist is suing Gov. Blagojevich over the law requiring pharmacists to quit with the moral posturing and dispense contraceptives already:

A pharmacist in Illinois has filed a lawsuit challenging an order by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich requiring pharmacies to dispense birth control and emergency contraceptives without delay.

The pharmacist, Luke Vander Bleek, 42, says in his lawsuit that the order violates state law by requiring pharmacists to act against ethical and religious beliefs that oppose morning-after birth control pills. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is the third contesting the governor's action.

"I'm not up on a soap box in the pharmacy screaming out 'This is not to be done,' " said Mr. Vander Bleek, who owns two pharmacies in Morrison and Prophetstown, about 130 miles west of Chicago. "I simply don't want to be involved in it."

Mr. Vander Bleek said he conscientiously objected to the order, which was issued in April after two women reported that a drugstore in Chicago would not fill their prescriptions for morning-after pills.

"Prior to this rule, I had always practiced pharmacy using my judgment and my conscience and the law as my guide," he said. "Here comes this grenade thrown in here that says you're going to have to do things that are morally objectionable."

Um, no. Not really. Here's what the law actually requires:

Responding to recent complaints filed against a licensed Illinois pharmacy that refused to dispense prescription contraceptives, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today filed an emergency rule that clarifies pharmacies in Illinois that sell contraceptives must accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay.

So there you go, Mr. Vander Bleek -- if the pharmacies you own don't stock contraceptives, you don't have to fill prescriptions for them. Now quit wasting the state's time with your lawsuit.

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* Ha ha, I'm just kidding. I know "pro-life" virtually always refers only to the "life" of fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, not actual human beings.

Replies: 10 Confessions

Two thoughts. What if those same pro-life pharmacists were suddenly denied their own prescriptions for say, Premarin, by someone who doesn't believe medicine should be tested on animals?

And two--if these pharmacists are so into letting their conscience be their guide, why not display a sign in the window that says, "We do not fill prescriptions for ______"? Because if they refuse based on potential loss of business, that tells me that conscience really isn't in charge after all.

ChgoRed @ 06/10/2005 07:53 AM CST


I had to get antibiotics a few weeks ago for a sinus infection and asked the pharmacist near where I work how they felt about filling birth control and emergency contraception. I was told, "I have to do it, but I fear for my soul." So I took my prescription to the Walgreen's near my house and voila! I got a "We fill several prescriptions a day." I asked and I fill much better about giving my co-pay to these people.

Cinnamon @ 06/10/2005 02:04 PM CST


Hi, I'm a new reader; love your blog!
I'm with Cinnamon; I normally patronize small/independent businesses, but if Walgreen's is more than willing to make sure I have my Ortho T. Lo, then I'm there!

BB, SE Wisconsin

BB @ 06/10/2005 06:46 PM CST


Huh. Let's make this problem go away. Horomonal birth control (as opposed to caps or sponges or barriers) is dangerous for women and it has these messy moral issues. So how about the religious right demand the development of safe, reliable, verifiable male use birth control? No holy ovaries to defend, no nasty breast cancer risk. And for couples who have chosen to be childless, the solution is already available at a very reasonable cost through Planned Parenthood. Step right up.

elavil @ 06/12/2005 11:16 AM CST


Actually, the protection for life includes the unfertilized ovum with sperm in the general vicinity.

mark @ 06/14/2005 04:56 PM CST


Oh....good.

Amy C @ 06/14/2005 08:28 PM CST


As far as what should be sold and not sold, it should be up the proprietor of the establishment. If a new state law required all Kosher butchers to start selling pork "the other white meat", the uproar would be tremendous. I think if he doesn't want to sell the product, you are welcome to go elsewhere.

Frank Miller @ 06/16/2005 11:28 AM CST


It is up to the proprietor. Read the rule above, Frank. It is not, however, up to the individual pharmacist. If a pharmacy stocks contraceptives (the decision of the proprietor), an employee can't just decide not to give them to a customer with a legal prescription.

And there's a big fucking difference between pork and health care.

Amy C @ 06/18/2005 09:59 PM CST


Amy,
Obviously your reading and interpretation skills are equally poor. He IS that proprietor you silly ass!!! In addition to being a pharmacist, he is also the owner. The issue of dispensing the drug is secondary to his decision as an owner to not carry the product.

Frank Miller @ 06/24/2005 05:19 PM CST


Frank, darling, read the post from the beginning. I KNOW he's the proprietor, which is why I said he hasn't got grounds to bring a lawsuit. Because Mr. Vander Bleek owns the pharmacy (in addition to being the pharmacist), he gets to decide whether or not to carry contraceptives. Blagojevich's executive order does not apply to Vander Bleek, so Vander Bleek's lawsuit is pointless.

Your example about butchers is equally pointless. It is not an accurate analogy.

Now who's the silly ass? (Hint: it's you.)

Amy C @ 06/24/2005 05:30 PM CST


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