Objectors, revisited

An alert reader pointed out this piece in today's Washington Post:

Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs...

..."There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she's married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone," said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. "There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won't even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence."

I blogged about this in September, when the issue provoked a good discussion on metafilter. I had just submitted my application to residencies, and resolved to try and find problems with both sides of the argument, in case any program directors were reading. An attempt at objective commentary though motivated self-interest -- and it's for a good cause! I ended up putting the patients' concerns first (and poking fun at a small religious group):

Already, primary care docs know which drugstores around town don't carry oxycontin (for fear of burglaries) -- and they pass this information along to patients when precribing pain meds. Will the docs have to learn which pharmacists won't fill prescriptions for emergency contraception? For birth control? STD's? Addictions?

Maybe. Of course, it'll be easy to remember to avoid the Christian Science Pharmacy (it's the one with all the empty shelves). But either we force druggists to honor prescriptions for all that's legal, or we memorize their morals, quirks, and biases.

One can only hope patients don't get sicker as they race around town, trying to find someone who believes in treating them.

An interesting discussion ensued.