Kansas Pharmacists Can Do Whatever They Want

First of all, I’d like to welcome some of my recent followers to this blog.  I can’t guarantee you’ll agree with everything (or anything) I say, but it’s nice to know I’m getting readership and all of the discourse has been civil.  What I find most interesting is the fact that I have a number of Christians following me.  I’m not sure if it’s because I happen to be a non-believer who shares some points of view about the politicization of religion in this country, or if it’s to better understand the mindset of a generic “new Atheist” … but whatever the reason, you’re welcome just the same.

Now, on with the kvetching.

Kansas lawmakers pass bill giving pharmacists leeway on abortion drugs

A bill that would allow pharmacists to bow out of providing drugs they believe might cause an abortion cleared the state legislature Wednesday.

The Senate voted 23-16 to approve the bill, which is primarily intended to broaden legal protections for health-care providers who don’t want to be involved in abortion procedures.

Already passed by the House in March, the bill now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a staunch opponent of abortion.

So in other words, it will get signed, since Brownback doesn’t really let things like facts regarding the mechanism of hormonal contraception get in the way of keeping women from accessing medication to which they have a legal right.  My biggest problem with this bill is the wording – “providing drugs they believe might cause an abortion”.  What if the people responsible for dispensing your medication believe that the birth control pill “causes abortions” … even when there’s absolutely no evidence to support that claim?  The Catholic Church has already done this … in fact, they did it this year when they started screaming about how they were going to be forced to provide health insurance for women that required the inclusion of hormonal contraception as part of the package.  Even after they were told the insurance providers would pay for it directly, they still weren’t happy because it went against their teachings of “taking life” … even after they demonstrated an inability to explain how or why that was a concern in the face of science proving otherwise.

Others, such as Planned Parenthood, believe the bill is about restricting birth control. They think it will clear a path for pharmacists to refuse a request for something like the “morning-after” pill, which the Mayo Clinic says can prevent or delay ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

They have said that this type of law could especially affect Kansas women in small towns and rural communities because the health provider wouldn’t be required to provide a referral somewhere else.

This is exactly where I see this law going.  Not only do you have medical professionals who will put their education and objective medical judgment on the back burner in favor of their religious beliefs, they will now be protected by legislators who know they can’t criminalize abortion, so will make it as difficult as possible for a woman to either get one or prevent a pregnancy from occurring to begin with.

Here’s the part that says the most about the path down which this issue is headed:

“Chemically, the line is increasingly blurring between abortion drugs like RU-486 and chemically similar contraceptive drugs,” said Kathy Ostrowski, the lobbyist for Kansans for Life.

“The health care professional has a right to make the decision about far they want to be involved in the termination of life.”

Wrong.  The line isn’t “blurring” between abortion drugs and hormonal contraception.  This is intellectual laziness, plain and simple.  Mifepristone’s mechanisms of action is to block the p-receptors in the placenta, essentially causing the uterine lining to shed the implanted blastocyst.  That’s the simple explanation … if you want more, here’s one source, but I don’t have a degree in medicine to understand it well enough beyond the abstract.

Hormonal contraception … well … I’ve already gone through this.  The bottom line is that while RU-486 and similar drugs will degrade the uterine lining significantly enough to force the uterus to abort the pregnancy, the only known mechanism of action for “The Pill” – and pharmaceuticals like Plan B – is the prevention of ovulation.  There is no evidence to date that the observed change in uterine lining as a result of being on any kind of contraception medication has any effect on the implantation of a fertilized egg.

So to be clear … there is no “blurring” between abortion drugs and hormonal contraception … unless you are being deliberately lazy to promote an agenda that has no scientific backing.  Want more proof that this is what’s happening?

Republican state Rep. Lance Kinzer of Olathe, the bill’s sponsor, has said it was intended to be a “modest” upgrade of the Kansas law to keep up with evolving technology.  [Bullshit … you just don’t understand the “technology” -ed.]

“Certainly, the right to an abortion does not include within it the right to require someone else to participate in or facilitate your abortion,” he said.

Kinzer has said the bill is intended to cover the abortion drug RU-486, not contraceptive medications — although he would be OK if conscience protections extended that far.

So he would be OK if conscience provisions extended so far as to prevent women from being able to legally access a drug that has nothing to do with terminating a pregnancy, but simply works to prevent one.  Again, in the age of the Internet, this kind of ignorance is glaringly deliberate, and can only be interpreted as a concerted effort to promote a personal interpretation of morality on women – especially those in the low-income bracket – who have little ability to work around the barriers placed against them to terminate their pregnancy … even though they have a legal right to do so.

One last question for people like Kinzer … we don’t want these poor doctors to be “forced” to carry out abortions just because a woman has a legal right to one, so we’re forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term when they don’t want to.  By that rationale, who the hell is left to provide them one?  They certainly can’t do it themselves within the confines of the law or their own personal safety, and a lot of these women likely won’t be able to afford jumping through all of the legal hoops you’ve set up.  I’m also pretty sure there are few resources to provide low-income women with access to prenatal care and the like, since the GOP is also hell bent on crippling Planned Parenthood, which in many cases is the only place where women can afford the care they need … not just for that but for STD and cancer screenings, mammograms, and yes, abortion services.

Besides, these doctors aren’t having their rights compromised by simply doing their jobs.  They took sex education classes in junior high and high school.  They majored in biology / pre-med in college, and then went to medical school.  They were well aware from the very beginning that not only is abortion legal, but that it would be a very real possibility that they would have to provide one – or prescribe the procedure – given their line of work.  Yet they made the decision to become doctors anyway.

If they didn’t want to be in this position … they shouldn’t have gone to med school to begin with.

Sound familiar?

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3 Responses to Kansas Pharmacists Can Do Whatever They Want

  1. Nea says:

    Google “Noel T. Noeson,” a pharmacist who was ages ago disciplined for the outrageous lengths he’d go to in order to be sure that he wasn’t exposed to any concept of abortion. Arguing moral objections, he refused to: fill prescriptions for anything he considered an abortion drug, including contraceptives; return prescriptions he had received and would not fill; refer to any other pharmacist who would fill the prescription; wait on women, lest they ask him for those prescriptions. He even *refused to answer the telephone* on the basis that he was sometimes asked about such prescriptions and got in trouble for hanging up or putting the phone down without getting anyone else to attend to it. This isn’t a case of what might happen, because we already know what HAS happened. Only when Noeson did it, he kept getting fired and censured.

    • Why the hell did he even choose that profession? WIth that kind of pathological obsession over sex, you think he’s become an auto mechanic or something and let the adults do their jobs.

      Of course, now he’d be lauded as a hero for being a man of faith and standing up for being a man of faith and standing up for his beliefs. All for the “freedom of religion” … no matter what other rights it snuffs out.

      • Nea says:

        “Of course, now he’d be lauded as a hero for being a man of faith…”

        That’s why he did it in the first place. And he *did* get lauded as a man of faith and conscience by the kind of people who agree with him and want their religion to trump other people’s rights. That he was handed his ass by employers *and* the state board of pharmacists was a bit of a drawback, but he was already lauded as a hero.

        The only reason he’s not being mentioned now is that it’s very bad P.R. to admit that your lovely sounding “right of conscience” can and has been used to duck out of the most basic and unrelated parts of the job.

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