Livin' in the Republic of Gilead

I want to do my part to spread this NARAL Flash movie (via Feministing) about pharmacists' refusal to distribute birth control. As you might expect, I'm outraged at the thought that women are denied access to Plan B, birth control pills, etc. I guess there are always county health departments, but who's to say people in far-right-leaning areas won't rally together and pass local laws against distributing birth control at those? Can they do that?

Also, what about condoms and spermicide? Are the pharmacists seeking to refuse the sale of those as well? In the news stories I've read, I haven't seen that point addressed. My guess would be that the pharmacists' ostensible argument would be that morning-after pills are abortifacients, blah blah blah, but birth control pills? That's where it gets shaky for me. Pharmacists for Life defines oral contraceptives as abortifacients because they supposedly don't always prevent ovulation. If ovulation is not prevented, the pill's thinning of the uterine lining serves as a failsafe to keep the embryo from attaching. Plus the pill causes the Fallopian tubes to "move," which might somehow affect the embryo, but they don't say how. But I mean, if they've got a "totally 100% pro-life philosophy!" as they claim (keep those women barefoot and pregnant! We need to increase this sparse, sparse population we've got!), shouldn't they stop carrying condoms and spermicide too? What would happen if they started denying men access to birth control? That I'd like to see.

Over at Hit & Run, they (predictably) claim that it's obviously not in a business's interest to deny sale of products they can profit from, and the market should punish these pharmacists, not the government. I'll aid in that venture, that's for sure. If they do pass these "conscience clauses," I hope they include an addendum saying that the pharmacies that opt out of selling oral contraceptives will be required to display a designation to this effect, some symbol or message. I mean something BIG, right out on the sign in front, something you can see from the road so you don't even have to go to the trouble of stopping there only to be subjected to the degrading, infantilizing, protectionist experience of being denied your right to birth control. And require them to put the designation in all newspaper ads, phone book listings, etc.

UPDATE: More at Bitch. Ph.D. and a crucial point at Luckyhazel.


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"Who's to say people won't pass laws?"

Funny you should mention that — in Georgia, where I lobby for Planned Parenthood, legislators brought forth a bill this year to require county health departments to obtain parental consent (in person!) before giving birth control to minors. [The language only demands notification, but the 'in person' clause effectively transforms it into consent.]

And that doesn't even touch the problem with this bill, which attempted set up a pharmacists' right of refusal. Its drafters screwed up at first by mistaking emergency contraception — which doesn't induce abortion — with mifepristone/RU-486, which does. What solution did senators come up with? A rewrite that allowed pharmacists to refuse prescriptions merely "believed by the pharmacist" to induce abortions — lauguage that still puts women seeking emergency contraception at risk.

Many of these lawmakers mean well, but sheesh — if I had longer hair, I'd be tearing it out.

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