A life in the day

4/6/2005

Moral Dilemna

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:37 am

It’s fun to actually struggle with a moral debate involving the day’s news. Usually, I find myself quickly making decisions on most of the issues presented in the media. But a story on NPR’s All Things Considered show last night on states considering a “conscience clause” for pharmacists gave me pause.

Basically, a pharmacist refused for ethical/religious reasons to fill a prescription for the “morning-after pill.” He was fired for violating the drugstore’s policies on these matters. Now some states are considering laws which will allow these pharmacists the right to refuse to fill these prescriptions.

I’m in favor of conscientious objector rules. I think there are many places for them. A Quaker, I know many people who have in fact invoked them in regards to military service. And I absolutely agree with rules that allow medical personnel to opt out of providing abortions, although I don’t know any details of the relevant laws.

But there is something different here, and it is only now as I type this that I’ve really put my finger on the issue. I certainly think the owner of a pharmacy has the right to refuse to stock any medicine which offends her. But doesn’t she have the right to choose the policies of the pharmacy, and to fire those employees who refuse to follow them?

Arguing by analogy is frought with problems, but I’m going to do it anyway. Should such laws also protect Walmart employees who refuse to sell a gun because they think it might be used for murder? How about a Burger King employee who refused to sell an Enormous Omelet Sandwich because it’s high-fat content is too dangerous?

Okay, now it’s clear to me. Thanks for listening. :-)

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