Thursday, October 23, 2008

no choice in the free market.

If you read Jezebel/read the news/know anything about women's rights, you're probably aware that a pro-life pharmacy just opened in Chantilly, VA. I actually live twenty minutes away from it and reading about how pissed everyone is, I was dying to go down and do something. But then I thought to myself, "What good would it do?"

As much as I HATE refusal clauses (or "conscience clauses" if you're using anti-choice/pro-life rhetoric. These are what allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control. They use the guise of religious freedom as their foundation, that everyone has the right to follow their religion and more importantly, that employers can't discriminate based on religion.), I wonder if our legal system is so backwards that this kind of misogyny is legally permissable. A pharmacy is, I guess, a business like any other, one that is free to operate by its own rules. But when those rules interfere with half of the U.S. population, allow one's beliefs to get in the way of their job responsibilities and violate the idea of patient-doctor privacy, I think that's problematic. I used this example in the past, but is a butcher allowed to hire a devout Jew who refuses to handle or sell pork?

Closer to the point, when does religious freedom in the pharmeceutical industry reach a limit? Are Scientologists allowed to work at pharmacies and refuse to dispense anti-depressants? Are Christian Scientists allowed to work at pharmacies and refuse to dispense ANY medication? The point is, why become a pharmacist if you have a problem with the job duties?

Another point that makes me livid is the fact that, to my knowledge (and I've researched this!), birth control only prevents ovulation and, to a lesser extent, fertilization. I almost hate to get into the specifics of this because I frankly do not give a damn if an egg has been fertilized or not. I believe women should have bodily autonomy whether she's a virgin or 18-weeks pregnant. Obviously I want to reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies, and it'd be great if we could make adoption a more viable option, but I think women have the right to decide their own fates.

But back to the original statement. Birth control does not affect an already-fertilized egg. Once conceived, that egg/BABY PERSON IF YOU'RE CRAZY is free to do what it wants. All birth control pills do is prevent a women from ovulating and thicken their cervical mucus to prevent sperm from meeting egg. Sure, lots of crazies think that ANY contraceptive method is bad, but when you're arguing about abortion, people center on the "conception" issue. And, I repeat, birth control does not affect an already-conceived zygote. So if you think birth control is any way commensurate with abortion, so are condoms. And masturbation. And monthly PERIODS, for god's sake. This makes no fucking sense.

And forget the idea that, with better access to birth control, we could prevent many of the abortions women seek. Let's consider the fact that before they ever have sex, many women have to go on birth control for other reasons. Endometriosis is one. Dysmenorrhea is another. When I don't take birth control regularly, I have excruciating periods that leave me sobbing on the bathroom floor. Regardless of pregnancy prevention, many CELIBATE girls take birth control pills as a hormone therapy. And there is NOTHING ELSE they can take.

We could presume that maybe, just maybe, this pharmacy would be okay with stocking birth control for these types of girls as long as their doctors sent along a note saying, "Don't worry! Little Sally isn't having sex, she has ENDOMETRIOSIS!!!" But this is ridiculous. These pharmacists would probably accuse women of lying to their doctors en masse, because a key tenet to the pro-life argument is that women are conniving and evil.

So I think it goes without saying that I think their pharmacy model is vile. The fuckers also don't stock candy. I wonder if they dispense Viagra? But I just don't know how to constructively, peacefully protest. And actually, maybe it's better that all these anti-contraception pharmacists concentrate in one place. This way, we can safely know that when we go to CVS/Target/wherever, we won't run into a crazy who refuses to fill our prescription.

The free market argument for these pharmacies is that, well, the market will sort this out. In 2002, 41% of U.S. women used some form of birth control. That's a pretty big market segment. Most of these women are going to feel pretty offended and inconvenienced by the fact that they have to go to a different pharmacy to pick up their birth control. If women don't shop at this pharmacy, their profits will suffer, and they will ideally go out of business.

The problem is this: while Chantilly is, like most of America, a mecca for pharmacies, other places in America aren't. When I was in South Carolina, I was at a traffic light where, on three corners, there was a mega-pharmacy chain. Rite Aid on my left, Walgreens to my right, CVS straight ahead. For an area like Chantilly, it's fine that there's a pro-life pharmacy in the running, because there are a bazillion others with less overt political messages.

But what about middle America, where there's only one pharmacy per 80 miles? What if the closest pharmacy is a pro-life one? And what about when these pharmacists, as they have in the past, refuse to redirect you to another pharmacy? Or worse, what if they TAKE your prescription from you and refuse to give it back?

So I hate this place, though I do respect the freedom for religion and all that. I just wonder, when does religious freedom in medical affairs reach a limit? Will I one day be able to book and pay for an appointment with a doctor who, after receiving my money, says, "Oh, sorry. It's against my religion to touch women."

But how do I do anything, besides lobbying? People on Jezebel suggested filling a grocery basket with items, then casually asking the cashier how to transfer your birth control prescription. When the clerk says "Oh, we don't stock that", you say, "Oh, well, bye then!" and leave the bloated cart on the counter. The idea is that they see how much potential business they're losing.

But will that do any good? I like to start arguments, but that's not constructive. I'd love to protest outside the store, to make sure they have to post big signs that display their No-BC policy, but I don't want to waste my time. I guess this is why so many people are apathetic.

No comments: