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Emergency contraception

March 23, 2010, 9:10 am

A year ago a judge ordered the FDA to reconsider its behind-the-counter classification of emergency contraception. Nothing has happened, and these talking bunnies are (rightly) pissed off about it.

Apart from the added embarrassment of asking an old guy in a lab coat for that pill you take after having sex, there’s the additional risk that the pharmacist will refuse to hand over the goods on the grounds that actually giving you safe and legal medication violates his conscience, which, in my professional opinion, is totally dildos.

It’s irritating for two different reasons: first, the safe and legal part, as well as the idea that it’s part of a pharmacist’s job to hand over those sorts of medications; second, EC is not actually an abortifacient. In some cases it can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, but that’s not the only way it can be effective, so what the pharmacist objects to is a role in a causal chain producing a chance at the prevention of implantation, which is not an abortion. Pharmacists can have moral scruples about this, of course, but that leads me to a broader point, namely, oversight of “conscientious objector” status. It’s bothersome to me that objecting to military service requires a lot of evidence of sincere commitment to pacifism (rather than moral objections to particular wars, as if these would be somehow less weighty) as well as other costs to the objector, while some pharmacists seem to be asserting the right to cost-free and scrutiny-free CO status. In general I like professional protections for people’s claims of conscience, but it’s a balancing act.

One easy fix: put the pills on the shelf.

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