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Antibiotics and Murder Revisited

April 14, 2006

When I once claimed that anti-biotics were murder….  I never thought anyone would take that concept seriously.

A pharmacy in Seattle is refusing to dispense medications to women with prescriptions from a women’s clinic. Namely, antibiotics and pre-natal vitamins.

Yeah, I know.  It’s not quite the same.  But in a weird way, it is.  In my parody, the infections are a punishment for sin.  The pharmacist who refused to dispense antibiotics probably has the same view.  The woman had an abortion.  If she gets infected, it’s her own fault.  Her punishment for her sin.  One wonders which sin the pharmacist objects to more.  The act of aborting her baby, or the act which led to her needing an abortion in the first place?

Let’s get this clear, right from the start.  This is not about saving the life of a baby.  This is about punishing women who want legal drugs to prevent infection from a legal procedure.  Everyone who scoffed at the “slippery slope” argument for allowing pharmacists to not dispense Plan B?  Here’s the handle.  Please wait until the lifeguard has given you permission to go.  Keep your hands over your chest, your ankles crossed, and pray to whatever god you see fit that the pool is full at the bottom.  If a pharmacist can decide to refuse antibiotics to a woman who is no longer carrying a baby, what’s the next step?

In the case of the prenatal vitamins, the patient was refused because the pharmacist decided that that she didn’t need them due to the fact that she wasn’t pregnant.  The refusal, it seems, hinges on the fact that the prescription came from a women’s clinic which also happens to be an abortion clinic.  Would the pharmacist have refused the prescription if it had come from any other clinic?  What would this pharmacist do if the prescription were for something completely unrelated to an abortion?  Prescription vitamins are often given to women who are having trouble getting enough iron and calcium in their diet.  People who have a lot of food allergies will also sometimes need prescription vitamins.  Without the sort of knowledge that a woman should only have to share with her doctor, this pharmacist shouldn’t be allowed to make that choice.

If these medications had come from any other clinic, the pharmacists wouldn’t have thought twice about filling them.  Instead, they allowed themselves to be blinded by their own ideology, to the detriment of the women who came to them expecting to be provided their properly prescribed medications.  Yesterday, I got a course of antibiotics.  And it never would have occurred to anyone to tell me that I couldn’t have them.  No one even bothered to ask why I needed them.  I am fortunate that my HMO provides me with a measure of security from people who see fit to impose their morality on others.  There are other women out there who aren’t so lucky.

If the woman who had been refused her antibiotics had been unable to find someone else to fill the prescription right away, there is the possibility that an infection might have set in.  A slim one, I admit, but a possibility nonetheless.  The results of such an infection can range anywhere from scarring of the uterus, to death.  What do you suppose would happen if the woman had died?  The pharmacist certainly wouldn’t have been blamed.  Oh no.  It would be called a “botched abortion” and chalked up to a win for the pro-life side.  One more death for them to trot out in the name of their cause.  One less life that they have to fight to “save.”

You can tell yourself that stopping abortions is about saving babies all you like.  You may even believe it.  But when people who claim to be trying to save babies are instead endangering women’s lives, I doubt their motivations.  People who want to save babies teach their children about proper birth control.  People who want to save babies would push for medications that prevent pregnancy before it happens.  People who want to save babies understand that there is a woman attached to that baby, and that by denying a woman the right to choose to prevent pregnancy, you drive her to instead make the more horrible choice of whether or not to end one.  If there are no safe and legal places for women to have abortions, they will go instead to have illegal ones.  If they’re lucky, they’ll live through it.

Antibiotics may not be murder.  But blind ideology can be.

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