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Author Topic: Catholic Pharmacists as Conscientious Objectors?
pooka
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I saw an article in which the Pope suggested this on AOL today.

link

quote:
Benedict said conscientious objector status would "enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia."
I am trying to figure out if this persuades me one way or another. My view up to this point has been sympathy for such pharmacists, but that they are somehow not doing their duty if they refuse prescribed treatment.

I guess I don't really have a good idea of what a pharmacists' duties are. It seems like they go through a lot of school to just be functionaries that do whatever a doctor orders. Too bad Alucard doesn't post much lately.

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Javert
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My two cents:

I have less of a problem with them withholding abortion and euthanasia products than I am with them withholding birth control.

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pooka
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To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?

Birth control is the same as killing a person?
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pooka
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Mini pill kills an embryo. I'm less clear on the regard toward the ovulation prevention pills, which are the "regular" pills that simulate pregnancy.
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?

Birth control is the same as killing a person?
So is menstruation. And masturbation, and defending yourself from a rapist, and any decision made by two fertile people of the opposite sex at any point in time not to engage in intercourse.
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Javert
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Never heard of the 'mini pill'. I do know that your standard birth control and the morning-after pill prevent ovulation. So unless there are people who believe life begins before conception, I don't think there should be a problem with those products. Which is why I lose respect for pharmacists who refuse to sell them.
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pooka
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Masturbation, yes. Is it news to anyone that Jews, Catholics, and many other conservative biblical religions object to that?
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Mucus
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Some Catholics also consider "morning after" or emergency contraception pills to be abortion, which medically most doctors consider to be distinct from abortion.
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rollainm
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No. At least not to me.

My point is simply the arbitrary drawing of the life line.

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pooka
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Stardard birth control pills that use progesterone are the ovulation inhibiting ones. They are not suitable for a lot of people because they aggravate psychiatric disorders. The function of the mini pill, which is the one that can be used as emergency contraception, is not widely publicized, I think.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Some Catholics also consider "morning after" or emergency contraception pills to be abortion, which medically most doctors consider to be distinct from abortion.

What they don't realize, or don't want to realize, is that the 'morning after' contraception could put a huge dent in abortions. Which tells me that they aren't so much concerned with abortion as they are with people having sex.
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pooka
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The mini pills I'm thinking of are different from what I'm finding through google.

Javert: But if they seem morning after pills as the same as abortion, it doesn't really matter.

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Javert Hugo
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If they already consider it an abortion, then more of them wouldn't make for fewer abortions - just different kinds.

Your last sentence assumes too much and assumes the worst. Not cricket.

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pooka
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For a conscientious objector in war, he may not mind killing in self defence, but if he goes in the army, he doesn't get to choose whether he will be killing in immediate self defense or in an offensive mode.
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Jim-Me
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quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?

Birth control is the same as killing a person?
So is menstruation. And masturbation, and defending yourself from a rapist, and any decision made by two fertile people of the opposite sex at any point in time not to engage in intercourse.
This is such a deeply incorrect mischaracterization of Catholic thinking that I am not even going to try to explain it. I'm rather, simply going to say that Catholics do not consider any of those things to be tantamount to abortion (or euthanasia) and Catholics not only do not proscribe the last two, but specifically affirm them.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Javert: But if they seem morning after pills as the same as abortion, it doesn't really matter.

It matters because I want to hold a pharmacist to the standard of a scientist. And scientifically the morning after pills do the exact same thing as birth control except you take it after sex. So, if you don't consider regular birth control to be abortion, then neither is the morning after pill. Their decision is irrational because the pill is taken after sex.

I would have more respect for them if they were against birth control and the morning after pill. I would disagree with them, but at least they would be being consistent.

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?

Birth control is the same as killing a person?
So is menstruation. And masturbation, and defending yourself from a rapist, and any decision made by two fertile people of the opposite sex at any point in time not to engage in intercourse.
This is such a deeply incorrect mischaracterization of Catholic thinking that I am not even going to try to explain it. I'm rather, simply going to say that Catholics do not consider any of those things to be tantamount to abortion (or euthanasia) and Catholics not only do not proscribe the last two, but specifically affirm them.
You clearly missed my point.
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Jim-Me
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
It matters because I want to hold a pharmacist to the standard of a scientist.

You should first hold yourself to the standard of "someone who understands what another person's objections are before judging them".

[ October 30, 2007, 10:16 AM: Message edited by: Jim-Me ]

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
It matters because I want to hold a pharmacist to the standard of a scientist.

You should first hold yourself to the standard of "someone who understands what another persons objections are before judging them".
True. But this being a quick discussion on a message board, I made an assumption. My apologies if I'm wrong.
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pooka
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From wikipedia
quote:
Combination pills usually work by preventing a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation). They also thicken the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining with an egg. The hormones in combination and progestogen-only pills also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation of a blastocyst.


So I'm not imagining that pills can cause the failure of an embryo that may have managed to get a start.


quote:
It matters because I want to hold a pharmacist to the standard of a scientist.
Ha. When, exactly, do "scientists" say life begins? (My perception is they don't, or have so many answers as to be meaningless. There is no scientific standard.)
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
quote:
It matters because I want to hold a pharmacist to the standard of a scientist.
Ha. When, exactly, do "scientists" say life begins? (My perception is they don't, or have so many answers as to be meaningless. There is no scientific standard.)
I was referring to the scientific understanding of how the pills work, which you quoted above. Again, I'm relatively certain (could be wrong) that no one is saying that life begins before conception.

The fact seems to be that ALL birth control has a chance, in theory, of preventing implantation. So do some other medications.

But, if you are ok with distributing normal birth control, which has the same chance of preventing implantation, and not ok with distributing morning after pills, you are being inconsistent, and I lose respect for you. (Not saying my respect means anything, of course.)

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pooka
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I don't oppose people owning guns, but I have reservations about people having guns that have no purpose than to assasinate with. Does that make me inconsistent?
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kmbboots
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Are we drafting people to be pharmacists now?
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
I don't oppose people owning guns, but I have reservations about people having guns that have no purpose than to assasinate with. Does that make me inconsistent?

It's not the same thing.

Now, imagine you sold guns. You knew there was a chance that these guns could kill people, but generally that chance was low, and so you still sold them. Then some new guns came on the market. These guns have the exact same function as the old guns, with the exact same risk of being used to kill people, but you refuse to sell them. And yet you continue selling the old guns.

That is what I object to. If you have two products that do they exact same thing and the exact same risks, either sell both or sell neither. If you just sell one, you're being inconsistent.

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Jim-Me
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Kate,

Unlike warfare, the objectives of drugs have changed recently. Plenty of people are now pharmacists who chose that profession before abortificant drugs were expected to be deseminated.

Javert,

The "regular" pill has a goal of preventing ovulation-- many people still view this as the primary purpose of a "regular" pill. The morning after pill has no intent other than preventing a fertilized egg from surviving. Surely you can see how the two could be rationally viewed differently?

Edit to add: your characterization that the two methods have "exactly the same chance" of the undesired effect is where you are off. And even if they *did* have the same chance, the intent matters. A very bad hitman may have exactly the same chance of killing someone as a very poor driver... in fact, likely far less... but the one remains evil while the other does not.

Rollainm, perhaps I did. What was your point, exactly?

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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
To them, it's the same as killing a person. Do we as a society have the require that of someone?

Birth control is the same as killing a person?
According to GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, birth control is similar to drunk driving or domestic violence. Yeah, I don't get it either.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
Javert,

The "regular" pill has a goal of preventing ovulation-- many people still view this as the primary purpose of a "regular" pill. The morning after pill has no intent other than preventing a fertilized egg from surviving. Surely you can see how the two could be rationally viewed differently?

I could see that, if the two pills weren't the same medicine. But they are. You should look at the studies. The function of the morning after pill is to prevent ovulation, just like the normal pill. And just like the normal pill, there is a theoretical chance of preventing implantation.

I'm only saying that if you're against one, you should be against the other.

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Mucus
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Jim-Me: Actually that is only one of three things the morning after pill does:

quote:
plan B does 1 of 3 things:
* It temporarily stops the release of an egg from the ovary;
* It prevents fertilization; or
* It prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

http://www.planb.ca/en/what.html
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Jim-Me
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My understanding is that they are drastically different dosage levels of the same medicine and do not have the same effect... but no, I have not seen the studies.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
My understanding is that they are drastically different dosage levels of the same medicine and do not have the same effect... but no, I have not seen the studies.

That I will grant you. And I will also say that it has been years since I sat down and looked at the studies myself. But I'm pretty sure I remember that the primary function of the pill is to prevent ovulation, and the other effects are possibilities. But those possibilities exist for the regular pill.

Oh, and I am in no way advocation that morning after pills should be used in lieu of regular birth control. Just want that to be clear.

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kmbboots
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Jim, but we still aren't putting people in jail for refusing to be pharmacists? Or for refusing to dispense certain medications?

I guess what I am objecting to is the use of the term "conscientious objector." A pharmacist who loses his or her job because he won't perform that job to the expectations of his or her employer is a different thing.

edit to add: And people can't expect that their job is going to always remain the same. This is as true for pharmacists as anyone else. If my boss asked me to do something legal that I considered immoral, I would have a choice. So do pharmacists.

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rollainm
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Jim-Me,
It was a (perhaps inappropriate for this discussion) stab at the pro-life position based on potentiality which seems to be an inevitable fallback for anyone who equates abortion and especially birth control with murder.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
And people can't expect that their job is going to always remain the same. This is as true for pharmacists as anyone else. If my boss asked me to do something legal that I considered immoral ...

*shhh* Don't tell them, I'm avoiding learning C# due to my religious objection to Microsoft as the devil [Wink]
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Jim-Me
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Ok... I see the problem here (hoist on my own petard somewhat, which is not unsual for me): we are talking at cross-purposes and I didn't do my own due diligence. It is perhaps lacking in others as well.

Read the Pope's statement, quoted above. He is talking about Abortificants (as well as Euthanasia drugs). When I see him talking about drugs that induce abortion and you start comparing it to ordinary birth control, I start thinking RU486 and the old-fashioned "pill", which are definitely different in intent and effect... and there is nothing at all "unscientific" about treating them differently at a moral level.

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Jim-Me
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quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
Jim-Me,
It was a (perhaps inappropriate for this discussion) stab at the pro-life position based on potentiality which seems to be an inevitable fallback for anyone who equates abortion and especially birth control with murder.

No, then I didn't miss your point at all. I got it completely and my original post stands 100%.

For starters, the pro-life position is not based on potentiality and does not equate birth control with murder.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
Ok... I see the problem here (hoist on my own petard somewhat, which is not unsual for me): we are talking at cross-purposes and I didn't do my own due diligence. It is perhaps lacking in others as well.

Read the Pope's statement, quoted above. He is talking about Abortificants (as well as Euthanasia drugs). When I see him talking about drugs that induce abortion and you start comparing it to ordinary birth control, I start thinking RU486 and the old-fashioned "pill", which are definitely different in intent and effect... and there is nothing at all "unscientific" about treating them differently at a moral level.

Ah. It all becomes clear.

Yeah, ru486 is an abortion pill. Not going to debate that with you.

I think one of the big problems with all debates like this is that ru486 and the morning after pill/plan b are so easily confused.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm avoiding learning C# due to my religious objection to Microsoft as the devil
Have you heard of IronRuby yet? [Wink]
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Jim-Me
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it doesn't help that I'm so far behind the times that I still think of RU486 as "the morning after pill" but back in the day it was sometimes called that...
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pooka
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quote:
"We cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person's life," he said.

I misunderstood this to include all birth control. So there's nothing new here, shouldn't have started the thread. Sorry guys...

Strangely, it is Javert saying the morning after pill is the same as normal contraceptives. Seems like if "plan B" is not RU 486, it should be apparent that birth control pills are not the same as "plan B".

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim-Me:
Read the Pope's statement, quoted above. He is talking about Abortificants (as well as Euthanasia drugs). When I see him talking about drugs that induce abortion and you start comparing it to ordinary birth control, I start thinking RU486 and the old-fashioned "pill", which are definitely different in intent and effect...

Thats not quite true, from the article:
quote:
Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that pharmacists have a right to use conscientious objection to avoid dispensing emergency contraception or euthanasia drugs and told them they should also inform patients of the ethical implications of using such drugs.
The morning-after pill IS emergency contraception. (And as noted before, the morning-after pill is just a different dosage level of some "normal" birth control pills)

Edit to add:

Here is a brief summary of terms since people appear to be somewhat confused (I await CT's corrections):

"Normal" birth control pills: Work by controlling ovulation. These are made of progestogen and/or oestrogen. Alternatively, there are studies about using Mifepristone in low doses.

"Morning-after" pills/emergency contraception: This works by controlling ovulation and preventing implantation. They include Plan B (a specific brand name) which contains a higher dose of the progestogen contained in birth control pills.

"Abortion pill"/RU486: This contains a higher dose of Mifepristone than that tested in daily birth control. This higher dose induces a miscarriage.

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pooka
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"Emergency Contraception" is a euphemism. Now I'm not saying it shouldn't be available. I think it should be available through rape intervention resources like E.R.s. I'd see the increased report of rape as a benefit to such a system.
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Jim-Me
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I guess what I am objecting to is the use of the term "conscientious objector." A pharmacist who loses his or her job because he won't perform that job to the expectations of his or her employer is a different thing.

I'm not sure why you see this as so different... e-mail me and we'll discuss further (I think you and I may be the only ones interested in this particular point [Smile] )
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MrSquicky
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As I understand it, the term conscientious objector is a legal term whose meaning is not applicable here. The Pope is pushing for an expansion of the term (or rather for Catholics to push for an expansion of the term).

I very much doubt that this effort is going to be successful.

---

edit:
quote:
I think you and I may be the only ones interested in this particular point
I'd be interested in this.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Strangely, it is Javert saying the morning after pill is the same as normal contraceptives. Seems like if "plan B" is not RU 486, it should be apparent that birth control pills are not the same as "plan B".

Huh? Sorry, confused. Please explain. [Dont Know]
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Aris Katsaris
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If pharmacists need a license to sell these pills, then the people with this license ought also have the obligation to do it despite their own beliefs.

If on the other hand people don't need the licence to sell these pill, then any single individual should be allowed to sell or not sell them as their conscience permits.

It goes both ways. If the pharmacists' conscience should be obliged, then my conscience should allow me to sell the pills without a pharmacist's license of my own.

Otherwise, you are creating a class of people that can restrict a product to the whole of the population. "Pharmacist's licenses" then become a way of authorizing the pharmacists to enforce their morality on other people.

Imagine doctors that refuse to treat black people or gay people. Those doctors ought lose their license. And same with pharmacists that don't sell these drugs; unless the pharmacist's license has nothing to do with these pills.

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Jim-Me
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Mucus,

Thanks for the summary of the pills.

The article draws the inference that Benedict is addressing emergency contraception. He does not, in fact, address any specific drug. He calls for a pharmacist's right to exercise their conscience in determining which drugs might have the consequence of ending a life and to refrain from participating in their distribution.

Javert charged that a still undetermined group of people, presumably all Catholics, were being ignorant in differentiating between different types of birth control. In addition to taking offense at this, I pointed out that Pope Benedict didn't actually address Plan B directly, in the process of explaining how it was, indeed, possible to be factually correct in differentiating between types of birth control drugs.

With me now?

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Tresopax
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I would think that a pharmacist has an ethical duty to not give out pills that he or she believes will be used to kill a person.
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pooka
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RU 486 is the abortion pill. It interferes with a pregnancy known to be in progress.

Plan B or "emergency contraception" is interference with a pregnancy that one has reasonable suspicion may be underway.

Contraception is intended to prevent pregnancy.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I would think that a pharmacist has an ethical duty to not give out pills that he or she believes will be used to kill a person.

Absolutely. Of course, if you're that ethical of a person you should probably get out of a field that requires you to dispense those pills by law.
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