Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ethical dilemma

Here's a tricky one.

"Three women in Massachusetts have sued Wal-Mart over its refusal to stock emergency contraception in its pharmacies, calling it a violation of state law that requires pharmacies carry all "commonly prescribed medications." The women, Katrina McCarty, Julia Battel, and Dr. Rebekah Gee, attempted to purchase emergency contraception (EC) at suburban Wal-Marts, and were told that the store did not sell it and it could not be ordered. The women hope to force an injunction that requires pharmacies to carry EC, similar to the one currently enforced in Illinois.

Massachusetts is one of nine states where emergency contraception can be sold over the counter without a prescription, but pharmacies are not required to stock it."

Emergency contraception is the morning-after pill (which can now be purchased from New Zealand pharmacies without prescription but only one dose at a time). Assuming this is the case in the Massachusetts, it can't be stockpiled. One would think as long as there is profit to be made from selling these products pharmacies would want to sell them but some have an aversion to it, sometimes on religious grounds. Preventing conception is one thing; administering an "abortion" is another.

Walmart has been inclined to "crowd out" independent drugstores in small towns. Which means a woman trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy by taking the morning-after pill, is prevented from doing so.

Of course there are other ways to insure against unwanted pregnancies. But what about a rape? And what about somebody who, in the sober light of day, thinks they may have done something silly? Can and should the state force pharmacies to provide this product?


Trevor Loudon said...


Libertyscott said...

No more than it should be forced to sell food, or batteries or even be open at all.

Anonymous said...

Glib replies but not thought out I suspect. Pharmacists routinely support the licensing of their profession limiting competititon by force of law. Without that law there would be other sources locally as it would be impossible to prevent it. But with licensing they limit the supply thus raising their profits. I would argue they should not be required to sell any drug in a free society. But if they themselves lobby to prevent competition (which they do)then they should not be allowed to the use the monopoly condition that they create with that law to impose their morality on others.