Thursday, March 6, 2008

Let's Go Be Lazy in Wisconsin

So, anti-choice pharmacists in Wisconsin don't want to do their jobs. I've given my take on this before. If you can't perform the tasks of your profession, get another job. Don't ask the state to give you an exception. But the anti-choice, anti-birth control pharmacists of Wisconsin are in an uproar about more than just the prospect of dispensing what the doctor prescribes. They're ticked off about the Birth Control Protection Act, which not only protects the rights of patients by forcing pharmacists to do their job, but also defines 'abortion' so as to exclude the effects of contraceptives.

According to ChristianNewsWire, this is beyond the pale, since

It is a medical fact that the morning-after pill (a high dosage of the birth control pill) and most, if not all, birth control drugs and devices including the intrauterine device (IUD), Depo Provera, Norplant, the Patch, and the Pill can act to terminate a pregnancy by chemically altering the lining of the uterus (endometrium) so that a newly conceived child is unable to implant in the womb, thus starving and dying.

Well, no, actually, it's not a medical fact. If you define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization, then yes, IUDs do result in the termination of a pregnancy. And hormonal methods may have the same result, albeit very rarely, since their primary function is to prevent ovulation and thicken the mucus lining the cervix to prevent sperm from penetrating. And usually, if they don't succeed in that, the result is not an embryo being flushed from the woman's system, but implantation. But not only is it not a "medical fact" that pregnancy begins at fertilization, it's silly to even think of defining it as such. If that's the case, then many sexually active women have been pregnant numerous times and had miscarriages. Of course, they can't inform their doctors of this, since they don't know. Additionally, imagine attempting to expand this definition out, given the advances in reproductive technologies. When a doctor fertilizes a woman's egg with her partner's sperm in a pitre dish, is she pregnant? If a store of her fertilized eggs is preserved in deep freeze, does she remain pregnant until her blastocysts die? If she dies while those blastocysts are still being preserved, does that mean that a dead woman can be pregnant? If a couple enlists the aid of a surrogate mother, who is pregnant? It's obviously not the biological mother. But then the woman who has preserved blastocysts can't be pregnant either. If pregnancy begins at fertilization, then someone has got to be pregnant, though. The egg is fertilized, after all. Is the tank pregnant?

ChristianNewsWire's nutty statements of "medical fact" aside, what really caught my attention was this:

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to freely exercise one's religious convictions. The Wisconsin Constitution expressly protects the rights of conscience. Under Article 1, Section 18, of our state constitution, "any control of, or interference with, the rights of conscience" shall not be permitted.

Now, obviously ChristianNewsWire and the anti-birth control pharmacists who are pushing this line against the Birth Control Protection Act are thinking that they are going to stop this legislation by claiming it violates their religious freedom through their rights of conscience. Here's the problem. Not every one who is anti-choice is religious, or is anti-choice because of their religious convictions. Are these Wisconsin pharmacists suggesting that it's okay to force someone who is anti-choice, but has no religious affiliation, to dispense birth control? I doubt it. But if this really is about conscience, and not about religion, then the Wisconsin constitution would seem to protect the rights of conscience of vegetarians who work at McDonalds and don't want to serve meat, or vegans who work at Mervyns but refuse to sell wool or leather, or school nurses, or doctors, who believe that vaccines are evil and refuse to distribute them to kids. Or heck, some renegade pastafarians who refuse to serve spaghetti, but insist on working at Italian restaurants. It's their right of conscience, after all. I guess anyone who has scruples against doing something required by a profession can work in that profession and yet not do their job in Wisconsin. My new set of principles - never prostituting my labor out for pay. I think I'll go get a job in Wisconsin.

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