Last month, University student Rebecca Polzin walked into a drug store in Glencoe, Minn., with a prescription for birth control and walked out angry and without the pills she came for. The pharmacist on duty refused to give her the pills on moral grounds. Polzin’s case is a troubling one considering its larger implications.
At the heart, it brings us to the where-does-life-begin debate. In a democratic society such as ours, the validity of all opinions about an issue such as this must be recognized, and that cannot be done if a pharmacist is forced to dispense a morning-after pill against his or her moral convictions.
However, measures must be taken to ensure women have reasonable access to these pills, because they are legal and particularly important in cases of rape and incest. At the very least, pharmacies should be required to have on staff one employee willing to dispense birth control at all times. The effectiveness of birth control depends on taking it consistently, and women should be able to get it when they need it and not be made to guess whether their pharmacy will give them drugs today.
Additionally, this issue reaches beyond birth control to other issues. For example, could a person with AIDS be denied his or her pills because the pharmacist felt that they got it by engaging in illicit sexual activity or drug use and therefore should not have access to the pills?
The state should mandate pharmacies that benefit from filling prescriptions for people on state-subsidized health care to fill all valid prescriptions or the federal government should allow morning-after pills, to be sold over the counter.
Surely a line must be drawn. The current limbo of activist pharmacists and women exercising their reproductive rights cannot stand.