Some Choice

After a romantic night with her husband, Michelle Crider feared that she had become pregnant. She asked her doctor to prescribe a "morning-after pill"—one that would prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in her uterus. In effect, an abortifacient. What happened next reveals how far abortion supporters will go to force others to accept and even take part in their deadly choice. Crider’s doctor gave her a prescription for Ovral birth control pills. Crider took the prescription to her pharmacist, John Boling. When Boling saw the dosage, he knew he was being asked to supply, not contraceptives, but a chemical abortion. He refused to fill the prescription—and he refused to refer Crider to a pharmacist who would. Crider eventually found a pharmacist to fill her prescription, and Boling was reprimanded by the drugstore chain he works for. But Crider is outraged that she was put to the trouble of going elsewhere. The California Pharmacists Association sided with Crider. If pharmacists can’t perform a service under their right of conscience, said spokesman Carlo Michelotti, "they have a duty to refer the patient." Of course, referring an abortifacient prescription to another pharmacist is just as reprehensible as supplying it oneself. But pro-abortion groups don’t see it that way. According to Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Mary Ellen Hamilton, third parties like pharmacists have "no right to intervene in a personal decision made between a woman and her doctor." It used to be that "intervening" in abortion meant passing laws restricting it, or blockading an abortion clinic. But today the definition of "intervening" in abortion has expanded to include refusing to actively take part in one. Refusal to cooperate is now being treated as if it were active intervention. There’s an historical precedent for the pro-life pharmacists’ dilemma. One hundred and forty years ago, the Fugitive Slave Act demanded that every American help enforce the vile traffic in human beings—regardless of his personal views. Of course, many Americans rightly refused to obey the law. Instead of turning runaway slaves over to the authorities, they helped them escape through the Underground Railroad. In the next few years, pharmacists will run up against other conflicts that will pit the demands of their conscience against the demands of their patients. They’ll likely be asked to dispense marijuana for "medicinal purposes," as well as the RU-486 abortion pill. And what happens if assisted suicide is legalized? Will pharmacists one day be asked to pass out suicide pills? Bogomir Kuhar, president of Pharmacists for Life International, says that when it comes to ethical issues, pharmacists should not behave like "mindless robots." Instead, he says, they have a right and "a duty to refuse to fill prescriptions that are known to... cause harm to the preborn [or] elderly ill." Kuhar is right. We ought to support courageous pharmacists like John Boling who put ethical considerations ahead of profits. And we ought to support conscience laws in every state that protect pharmacists from attempts to force them to violate their consciences. Otherwise, we are in essence turning pharmacists into mindless robots, dispensing not healing drugs but death.


Chuck Colson


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