Women who report sexual assaults to police receive treatment, examination and the immediate offer of emergency contraception at a local emergency room, according to the policy of most Tucson hospitals.
But, like many sexual assault victims, the 20-year-old woman did not report the assault because she felt traumatized and guilty she had put herself in a situation that left her vulnerable. She was mistakenly locked outside a gathering at a friend’s house and accepted the offer of a neighbor to stay at his place. “This (sex) was with someone I did not even know and did not want to have intercourse with, and I am in no place now to have children,” she said. “I just don’t think this should be the pharmacist’s decision.”
“He (the manager) said he would fill it himself if we could get there before his shift ended, within 10 minutes,” said Sabrina Fladness, a University of Arizona student and owner of a computer service business. “But we were more than 10 minutes away, so that was impossible. So he said we would have to come back the next morning” - after the shift of the refusing pharmacist ended. “He made no provision for getting it that night,” she said.
The rape victim and her friend had to call more than 50 pharmacies before finding one that not only stocked emergency contraception, but would actually dispense it. Why don’t more pharmacies dispense a medication that has been around for decades? They don’t want to deal with the controversy — right-wing religious groups have made contraception such a controversial issue that rape victims are being prevented from obtaining basic medical treatment now.
When asked, pharmacies typically say that there isn’t enough demand, but Planned Parenthood reports a dramatic upswing in demand for it. This is likely due to the increased attention being focused on emergency contraception through the attacks by the Christian Right, so I guess their whining has been good for something. Ultimately, though, their antics are harmful because they are seeking to make legal medications impossible to get by allowing individuals to thwart democratically-reached public policy decisions.
They don’t have the votes to make contraception or emergency contraception illegal, so they encourage individual pharmacists to ignore their professional obligations, refuse to do their jobs, and hurt patients in need. How very “Christian” of them.
Quick Poll: Should pharmacists and other health care professionals be required to dispense medication like contraceptives and ‘morning-after’ pills, even if they have religious objections?
- Yes. If they can't dispense legal medications prescribed by a doctor, they should find a different profession. They can't pick and choose which medicines they will handle.
- No. A person should be able to refuse to dispense medication if their religion doesn't allow it - it's a question of religious freedom.
- I don't know / don't care.