If You're Knocked Up in Kansas and Don't Want to Be, You Better Hope You Get the Right Pharmacist

Illustration for article titled If You're Knocked Up in Kansas and Don't Want to Be, You Better Hope You Get the Right Pharmacist

Oh, great. Another law that gives medical professionals the right let their superstitious beliefs trump the needs of their patients. Earlier this week, Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed into law a measure that would strengthen so-called "conscience rights" of pharmacists in the state, giving them the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs that they "believe" cause abortions. Whether or not the drugs actually cause abortions doesn't matter — what matters is whatever medically inaccurate crap anti-choice pharmacists have decided to swallow.


The law could feasibly allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for the abortion pill RU-486, sure, but the expanded conscience clause would also give pharmacists the right to refuse to prescribe things that don't actually cause abortions, like the morning after pill (which is designed to prevent ovulation) and even birth control pills (which, duh, do not cause abortions). People who believe that life begins at conception often falsely claim that the birth control pill and morning after pill cause abortions because one side effect of taking either pill is a thinning of the uterine lining, which can make implantation of a fertilized egg difficult, but that only happens if the pills have failed to do their primary job, which is to prevent ovulation. So, the morning after pill "causes" abortions sort of like how the sport of baseball causes broken windows.

Of course Republican Rep. Lance Kinzer, the ovary-less man behind the bill, is claiming that this law only serves to protect the rights of pharmacists to not be forced to do stuff they find murdery. And besides, women's access to the Morning After Pill won't be threatened; pharmacists must have "reasonable medical basis" to believe that the prescription will cause an abortion, and anyone who disagrees with a pharmacist's belief can be hashed out in the courts. But that's hardly comforting for women of Kansas who could be faced with a pharmacist who uses the law to refuse to sell them Plan B, unless Governor Sam Brownback plans to staff every pharmacy with a medical expert who can rule instantaneously whether or not the pharmacist is being wack. And laws like this are especially troubling considering that in some cases, the "abortion drug" is a matter of life and death — women suffering from ectopic pregnancy are often given the drug to prevent dangerous complications.

And! In case you had any doubt that this law was a steaming pile of stench, it also explicitly allows facilities to have policies that prohibit "the performance, referral for or participation in" abortion services or anything, really, that the facility "reasonably believes" would end a pregnancy. So if you had a condom catastrophe in Kansas and happened to mosey into a pharmacy where the pharmacists believes that the Morning After Pill is for babykilling whores, then he would be completely within his rights to refuse to distribute the drug and he could stonewall you on where you could get the emergency contraception you need.

But Kansas is far from the only state that singles out abortion and contraception as the only medical procedure that medical professionals are within their rights to refuse to provide. Thirteen other states have similar refusal clauses on the books for contraception, and six of those states explicitly allow pharmacists to refuse to distribute hormonal contraception. As far as I'm aware, no states allow sober doctors to refuse to provide health care to dumb college students who got alcohol poisoning from drinking too much jungle juice at frat parties, or staunch environmentalist doctors to refuse to treat people who get in car accidents after driving SUVs. But if you're a woman who is having sex without embracing motherhood for whatever reason, their magical beliefs win, at least in Kansas.

[Kansas City Star]



OK, I always ask these sorts of questions, forgive me.

Do pharmacists ever deny Accutane to women of childbearing age because it could hurt the fetus/cause a miscarriage? What about other teratogenic drugs?