Idaho Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Mark Johnston confirmed that the board received the complaint alleging that on Nov. 6 a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill a prescription ordered by one of Planned Parenthood’s Boise-based nurse practitioners. The prescription was for a Planned Parenthood patient for Methergine, a medicine used to prevent or control bleeding of the uterus following childbirth or an abortion.
An inquiry to Walgreens’ Corporate office seeking comment was not immediately addressed.
Planned Parenthood officials said the complaint states that the pharmacist inquired if the patient needed the drug for post-abortion care. The nurse refused to answer the question based on confidentiality of health information.
According to Planned Parenthood, the pharmacist then stated that if the nurse practitioner did not disclose that information, she would not fill the prescription. The nurse alleged that the pharmacist hung up when asked for a referral to another pharmacy that would fill the prescription.
Conscience clauses that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control, Plan B and other such medications and now Methergine, are just the latest assault on women’s reproductive rights by pro-life political activists, who are just fine with the state forcing you to bear a child against your will but can’t stomach making someone hand a bottle of pills over a counter.
Most of these assaults are highly dependent on not understanding thing one about a woman’s reproductive health, about how many things can go wrong during a pregnancy, and about what measures might need to be taken to save a woman’s life.
In the aftermath of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was most widely known for providing late-term abortions and was murdered by an anti-abortion zealot, story after story was told of women who had been his patients. Women who were in the advanced stages of pregnancy. Women who wanted children, desperately.
They had been overjoyed to discover themselves about to become mothers. They painted nurseries, celebrated at baby showers, held and rocked their beloved children-to-be in their arms a thousand times in their imaginations, these women. These women for whom something had gone horribly wrong.
And, because of the crusading of the pro-life movement, these women were unable to find a hospital where a doctor could end the pain of carrying a child destined to be stillborn, or brain-dead upon birth, or so severely deformed as to only survive for seconds outside his mother’s body. They went to Dr. Tiller not out of some hideous disregard for human life but because he was one of a very, very few doctors left who could do what they needed to have done.
When pro-life crusaders aim to prevent abortions, they paint a picture in the public mind of the irresponsible, selfish woman, using words like “abortion on demand” and “abortion as birth control.” They don’t talk about the realities of women’s reproductive health, and the full consequences of denying medical treatment in order to discourage sexual indiscretion. They don’t address all the ways in which the process of conceiving and bearing a child can go wrong, and all the measures that must be taken when and if that happens.
Apparently the proponents of such “conscience clauses” as are now applied to pharmacists like the one in the news story above would rather not make those distinctions. But the cost of preserving this black-and-white worldview may be women’s lives. Apparently it’s more important to find outwhy a woman is bleeding to death than to stop her from dying. So as to keep one’s conscience, of course, perfectly clear.