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PLAN B: Keep religion out of state’s pharmacies

Letter by MacKenzie Allen, Tacoma on Feb. 23, 2012 at 10:51 am with 4 Comments »
February 24, 2012 10:36 am

Re: “Judge says Washington can’t make pharmacies sell Plan B” (TNT, 2-22).

Hopefully, another generation or two will see the religious zealots losing their political clout. Or, absent that, losing their tax-exempt status.

In my law enforcement career, I swore to abide by and enforce all laws, not just those I liked or agreed with. Sometimes I even had to protect really terrible people. What a concept!

Pharmacies have always sold condoms. And while religious extremist pharmacists might draw a distinction between Plan B (regarding a fertilized egg) and the contraceptive value of condoms (fertilization prevention), clearly the Catholic Church does not.

We are, therefore, left with the quandary: Whose religious values should we adhere to? Whose particular belief system should inform society at large?

The right answer, the American answer, is no one’s. Religion has zero place in politics. Zero. And a state worker or licensee – whether law enforcement officer, firefighter, bartender or pharmacist – should have an absolute obligation to abide by, and dispense to, law-abiding society and provide legal products and services.

Many years ago I knew a woman who referred to herself as a “cafeteria Catholic” because she would pick and choose the dogma she’d follow. The court has now endowed state-licensed pharmacists with that same leeway.

Separation of church and state? I think not.

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  1. alindasue says:

    “Separation of church and state? I think not.”

    There is a big difference between someone choosing which tenets of his religion he will follow, as with your “cafeteria Catholic” example, and the state telling a merchant that he must carry a certain product – even when carrying that product would force him to be a “cafeteria” [insert any religion] if he wants to stay in business.

    Really, the government has no right to tell a merchant what products he must sell, regardless of his reason for not wanting to sell some of them. Even if it’s for no other reason than he does not have enough shelf space.

    A pharmacist’s license merely certifies that he has proficient knowledge of safe handling and dispensing of controlled substances and that he promises to keep proper control of the distribution of those substances. It is not a covenant to carry every single drug under the sun in his pharmacy just because someone might want to buy it at his store. Like any merchant, he carries what he feels would be the best selection to have in his store. Whether customers continue to come or not gives him the feedback about whether his selection is sufficient or not.

  2. Officer MacKenzie Allen wrote: “In my law enforcement career, I swore to abide by and enforce all laws, not just those I liked or agreed with.”

    “all laws”?

    I just wonder how many people Officer MacKenzie Allen ever arrested or ticketed for walking around in public with a cold or the flu?

    RCW 70.54.050
    Exposing contagious disease — Penalty.

    “Every person who shall willfully expose himself to another, or any animal affected with any contagious or infectious disease, in any public place or thoroughfare, except upon his or its necessary removal in a manner not dangerous to the public health; and every person so affected who shall expose any other person thereto without his knowledge, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

    http://www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/washington

    To every rule there is an exception? I don’t necessarily believe that, because I know there are some rules and laws you just should never break. Just as there are some laws that perhaps should never have been made law in the first place. Some laws need to be changed, others repealed. That’s the nature of man. We are not perfect, and sometimes we enact stupid rules. That’s also where and when Civil Disobedience is needed to bring attention to laws and rules that need to be changed.

    When you set yourself up as a paragon of virtue, as Officer Allen has, then you have to be ready to be knocked down. Before I do that let me just make clear: I respect police officers, and want Officer Allen and all others in law enforcement to know that I truly appreciate the risks and sacrifices they make and endure to keep us all safe.

    However, I wonder if Officer Allen ever arrested or ticketed anyone for “Public Contagiousness”. And if not, since it is one of “all laws” the officer “swore to abide by” could one then consider Officer Allen to have been a Cafeteria Cop?

    So, if Officer Allen can decide not to arrest or ticket people who exhibit symptoms of a cold or the flu in public, then why can’t pharmacists make some similar decisions based on what they believe to be A HIGHER AUTHORITY than the Regulatory Code of Washington?

  3. Revised Code of Washington.

    Sorry about the “Regulatory” misstatement.

  4. drummerswidow says:

    Great letter, Mac. It is a slippery slope the “higher authority” folks are taking us down. What’s next? A conscience exemption for those pharmacists who object to dispensing AIDS drugs to HIV-positive patients because they have a moral objection to how they believe the patient might have acquired the HIV-positive status?

    Or since it’s all the rage now for Catholic institutions to interfere with what they will and will not allow to be provided in terms of health care to employees (contraceptive coverage), what if other employers jump on that bandwagon and decide, no, I don’t believe I will be providing your Lipitor anymore, Fatty. Or your diabetes medication anymore, you there with adult-onset type 2 diabetes – you got that because of lifestyle choices YOU made.

    Where does it end? Who ever thought we’d even be HERE, having this insane conversation about Plan B?

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