Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thou shalt not dispense!

Joseph Ratzinger has issued commands to Catholic pharmacists not to dispense prescriptions that conflict with their religious beliefs stating:

"Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role," Benedict said.

Benedict said conscientious objector status would "enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia."

and continuing:

"We cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person's life,"

The Daily show did a bit on this a while ago when they interviewed a Christian (the particular sect escapes me) pharmacist who would not dispense birth control. What was startling was how confident the man was in asserting his right to not perform his job and how righteous he felt he was in claiming he could not be fired for it. I would be hard pressed to think of any other reason that a person can neglect their job and not be fired for it other than religious ones. It seems if you can simply dignify your neglect of civic, legal, social, and professional duties with faith you get a pass. Unfortunately the man was on pretty sound legal ground. The Civil Rights Act specifies that a person cannot be denied employment on religious grounds. What was intended as an effort prevent discrimination has now turned into a regulation inimical to free enterprise. I wonder if a Muslim could claim discrimination because a liquor store fired him when he refused to touch alcohol. I wonder if a Catholic doctor would escape legal culpability if he refused to perform an abortion to save a woman's life and it resulted in her death. I wonder if a Hindu could sue for being fired from McDonald's because as we all know he would object to the beef extract they put in French fries.

That the Civil Rights Act has unintentionally not only prevented a business from freely hiring who it deems fit, has not only created a legal shelter for the professionally negligent, has now made it impossible for a business to operate in pursuit of its own self interest, but has also had consequences with which its liberal authors would not have been pleased is no surprise to those who don't think the government should be delineate good from bad thought to its citizens. Vague legislation like this does not protect minority rights but rather creates micro rights. I can claim any set of religious beliefs I like and to escape punishment for almost any violation of the law I need only to convince a court that these beliefs are honestly held. The locus of determination over how laws are applied has now shifted from a written constitution to an individual's mental state. And I am confident enough in the existence of similar cases that I will assert their existence and let readers do their own research.

Instead of being duly fired for not filling a prescription (his job) a pharmacy must now waste time and resources to accommodate a person with beliefs it could not have asked them to reveal.


tekel said...

Found you from Digby's spot. Ahoy.

Re: whack-job pharmacists who won't do their jobs... they could just, you know, fire him and replace him with someone who isn't so offensive to customers. That's what I would do. It's not about religion, it's about customer service. If his religion prevents him from providing good customer service, perhaps he should seek a profession where his obvious character flaws would put him at less of a disadvantage, like roofing.

I'm trying to run a business. Keep your sky-wizard delusions out of it.

Anonymous said...

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