Plan B

I believe that Gov. Rod Blagojevich deserves some props for his stance on the morning-after pill, also known as Plan B. It hasn’t happened yet but Blago has vowed to introduce a bill that would allow women to obtain the emergency contraceptive without a prescription, as nine other states already do. This would take the decision out of the hands of moralizing pharmacists who believe they can tell a woman what is best for them and refuse the prescription, usually based on religious principles that simply do not apply.

Plan B acts as a birth control pill and does not actually terminate an existing pregnancy. Its purpose is to prevent women from becoming pregnant after unintended sex (in its various forms). Politicians across the country should be bold enough to pass legislation allowing this reasonable choice to be made over the counter for women everywhere. The sermons should remain in the church.

20 Comments so far

  1. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 11:27 am

    I don’t want to sound like an extremist, but did we need to call out “moralizing pharmacists”? Could there possibly be pharmacists who, like the conservative argument claims, refuse to give the pills simply because these pharmacists don’t want to be the ones giving them (i.e., even if they’re unsure if it’s wrong or right, they don’t want to feel possibly guilty for being the supplier of the pills)?

    From that point of view, isn’t this more of a win-win?


  2. Danny Doom (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    But isn’t it their job? The pharmacists are not giving out medical exams, they are dishing out drugs that were prescribed. That’s it.

    I stand by “moralizing pharmacists” as an apt description.


  3. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    Well say I write code for and design websites. A guy comes to me and wants to start a site that:

    a) Caters to a niche (and decidedly creepy) porn market. I don’t have any problems with porn being on the internet, or even with getting paid to help put more of it up there, but what if I’m not sure if this particular market is/should be legal?
    b) Endoreses super right-wing politics (we’re talking white supremacist stuff, Confederate flag theme, etc). It’s every bit a right that this guy has to march in Cicero or move into a cave and act weird, but I don’t really dig racism.
    c) Distributes pirated music. Heck, I’m in favor of revamping the way copyrights work in the US legal system, but I don’t think pirating is the answer and I don’t want to have this associated with me.

    Sure, making websites is my job, but should I feel compelled to design the site in any or all of these cases?


  4. Danny Doom (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

    You don’t want to sound like an extremist but…you do. Comparing the morning-after pill to a) porn, b) racism, or c) stealing tells me that you think this pill is really really really bad. You’re not sure if two of those three examples are legal, so are you saying that Plan B is also not necessarily legal? But it is. The question now becomes, why would a pharmacist refuse to distribute a legal medicine?

    This is why Blago is moving to make it over-the-counter, so this legal drug can be obtained without any “moralizing pharmacist” getting in the way.

    Are you against birth control of any kind? Or just the kind that helps a woman in an emergency situation, such as rape?


  5. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    I’m in fact in favor of distributing Plan B to anyone who needs it. I don’t think many people would even consider pornography so “really really really bad.” It seems, in fact, to be pretty well, erm, “loved.”

    What I was trying to say is that some pharmacists don’t think that birth control is such a simple issue as most people do (or at least the answer isn’t so simple). I’m not saying I agree with them.

    Here’s something a right-winger wouldn’t say:

    If I worked in a Wal-Mart and was asked by a customer to help him pick out a gun, I wouldn’t hesitate to say “I’m on break” and run away. Sure, guns are legal and I’m sure most gun-owners are fully justified in having them. I just don’t know if I want to be the one helping put more guns out there. If they wanted to talk about gardening tools or childrens toys or video games, I’d help them. I’m a little ambivalent on the issue of guns, you see.

    I think that the pharmacists that are causing the problem here (that’s loaded, sorry) might have the same mindset about Plan B. Plan B is a wonderful drug that people have a right to have and should be able to get. If the guy behind the counter tells me I’ll have to drive down the road a few miles to pick the medicine up, though, because he doesn’t feel right about giving them to me, I’ll be upset. I might give him the finger and tell him that it’s the last time I ever shop at his store or his chain. I won’t try and force him to give me the pills, though.

    This kind of thing happens all the time. i’ve taken plenty of pills that “should not be handled by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.” If there’s a lady at the pharmacy who’s trying to get pregnant and doesn’t want to touch those pills, I might get frustrated. That’s as far as I’ll take it, though.

    Also, I don’t like Blago.


  6. Danny Doom (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

    You shouldn’t be working in the gun dept. at Wal-Mart if you feel that way. I know I wouldn’t.

    Porn? I’m all for it, but you lumped it in with racism and stealing, so…

    I’m not sure what we’re arguing here, but I’ll stick with my original points, which were a) Plan B should be over-the-counter and I’m happy Blago is pushing that, and b) pharmacists have no business refusing to distribute a prescribed legal drug based on their own moral standards.

    Sounds like your feelings towards Blago are over-riding the beliefs you have towards Plan B. I imagine even Judy Barr Topinka would do the same thing if she were governor.


  7. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    Haha, I can’t imagine voting for Topinka, though the thought did make me laugh.

    I think we’re in full agreement on your point a. Blago did good on this one. We disagree on point b because I think that the company should be the one to force pharmacists if this hadn’t passed. (If you don’t do your job, you should probably be yelled at by your boss or fired, not fined by the govt.)

    I started out just reacting to the “moralizing” term, because I sometimes like to think that there are people on there polarizing issues that aren’t part of the extreme opposite view from me I was imagining a pharmacist that looks like Droopy in a lab coat, and might just meekly ask the customer to wait for a second pharmacist to help her with getting Plan B. (I tend to interpret “moralizing” as trying to force your values, in case there’s confusion here.)

    Glad we got that semi-sorted out.


  8. Danny Doom (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

    Well, yeah, I agree that it shouldn’t have to come this either, the gov (or gov’t) stepping in. But it has, unfortunately.

    Even funnier than voting for Topinka is your vision of the pharmacist that looks like Droopy…!


  9. Bill V (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    Voting for Gov is going to suck. By the sounds of it, this site needs more porn and more pharmacists as writers. My favorite pharmacist is the drummer that plays with Ted Leo. Have a nice day!


  10. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

    I’m voting for Bill as a write-in.


  11. Artemis (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

    I think it’s important to note here that pharmacists are part of a professionally regulated industry. One goes to school to be a pharmacist, and then takes an exam to be licensed by the state. There are statutes and regulations in place to regulate the industry. One ground for disciplinary action under those rules is “failing to sell or dispense any drug, medicine, or poison in good faith.” (This is in the Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act, 225 ILCS 85/30.) It seems to me that a pharmacist simply isn’t allowed to refuse to fill a lawful prescription for a patient. Not only is it imposing the pharmacists personal views on the public, it’s failing to dispense medicine in good faith. And pharmacists, as professionals who know or should know the rules of their profession, simply can’t do that. Not to mention that pharmacists can hardly profess, after all of the education and regulatory hoops they must jump through, that they didn’t know they’d be called upon to dispense certain types of medication.

    So, just as one shouldn’t work at Wal Mart if one doesn’t want to sell guns, one shouldn’t become a pharmacist if one won’t be able to dispense the necessary prescriptions.


  12. Nora (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

    It’s interesting to me that one rarely, if ever, hears about pharmacists denying men condoms.


  13. Erik (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

    Artemis and Nora both make good points. “Good faith” is something I’ll let someone else debate the finer points of, though, because i’m done with work and it’s frisbee time.

    Nora’s point is especially good. Why? Because condoms are *over the counter* and thus don’t have this problem. That’s why it’s so good that Plan B is too!


  14. Danny Doom (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    No, condoms and Viagra don’t seem to pose a problem, do they? I would love to ask that of a pharmacist who refuses to distribute Plan B.


  15. sten (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

    If I work at Blockbuster, and I think “Highlander II” sucks, I don’t get to refuse to rent it to you- if I do, I get fired, and rightly so.

    Silly analogies aside- pharmacists execute the prescriptions that *doctors* *prescribed* for the *health* of their *patients*. Pharmacists don’t get to make those kinds of decisions, doctors do.


  16. steven (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

    Sten, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Pharmacists do not get to make the decision regarding which customers get which drugs. It’s really none of their business. I don’t want my Pharm denying me what I need because they have a moral objection to it. Tough shit, give me my prescription.

    What if a Pharm refuses to fill the order and the customer has no other way of getting it? What happpens then?


  17. The Skirt (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

    You’re right Steven – what if the pharmacy that refuses the woman is the only place she can get it?

    All jobs have crappy bit by definition – that’s why it’s “work”, not “fun times”. The whole purpose of a pharmacist is to dispense the drugs on the script.

    If the pharmacist is unable to do what they’re supposed to because of religious or moral views, they should get another job. Those who refuse to dispense drugs they don’t agree with should be struck off.

    What happens if the drug is availanle over the counter though – will those pharmacists who disagree just not have supplies instore? So you’re screwed again.


  18. ap (unregistered) on August 9th, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    The thought of Blago pushing Plan 9 is scary to me.


  19. erinoia (unregistered) on August 10th, 2006 @ 12:24 am

    I teach sex education through a mentoring program at a middle school on the southwest side, and so this whole issue is close to my heart. I am totally in favor of Plan B being over the counter, although I am not so naive as to think that it might be abused by some women because they know it’s available to them, and that if they have unprotected sex they can go take that and almost eliminate their chances of an unwanted pregnancy. Obviously that plan is riddled with problems.

    However, there is certainly no way that using that argument as a viable complaint against Plan B is acceptable. I think that in this case the benefits outweigh the costs, hands down. Of course, if condoms weren’t kept behind glass cases, sexually active teens who are too scared/embarassed to ask for the CVS clerk to open the case for them might not be in such dire need of an OTC morning-after pill. Then again, that’s a whole other story. Don’t even get me started on insurance (ahem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield) not covering birth control pills.


  20. Erik (unregistered) on August 10th, 2006 @ 8:36 am

    My Walgreens only has glass cabinets for the expensive razors.

    Another reason to support local business over corporations from elsewhere! (Walgreens still counts as a local business in my mind.)



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