Sometimes The Market Works

April 13, 2010


I can't resist this news item. A Virginia pharmacy -- that went by the name Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy -- that refused to sell birth control has closed its doors due to insufficient business. I don't want to take glee in others' distress, but maybe, just maybe, the proprietors of this drugstore will have learned that a pharmacy is not an appropriate vehicle for imposing one's religious views on others.

As I have noted previously , the notion that religious beliefs should exempt a health care professional from providing certain services is suspect. Claims that the professional's freedom of conscience would be violated are unfounded because no one is under any compulsion to become a nurse or pharmacist, nor is the health care worker being forced to use the objectionable drug or service herself. All that is required is respect for the patient's choice. If someone is not comfortable providing health care services based on the patient's decision, that person can pursue another line of work.

Allowing health care workers to pick and choose among the services they will provide may not only set a dangerous precedent (can a truck driver refuse to deliver goods that are considered ungodly?), but it also could result in denial of access to needed health care. In the instance of the Virginia pharmacy, there were obviously competing pharmacies available to provide the services patients desired. That may not be true in rural, isolated communities.

"Divine Mercy Care" should not become a synonym for "Care Unavailable."