Alert: Oppression masquerading as religious freedom

Okay, by now you know I’m a liberal sissy, a pinko commie, a bra-burner or whatever other epithet you’d like to hurl my way. All I ask is that you try to be creative. I mean, hearing the same old meaningless insults just gets old after a while, you know?

In any event, this is the Washington Post’s most emailed article for today. Can you f’king imagine? Now, this is one of those situations where you have to stop and think rather than blurting out the first connection your neurons make and passing it off as God’s revealed truth (IOW, Mr. President, Ms. Coulter, this is your cue to stop). Now, in San Francisco or Miami, the argument of the Pharmacists for Life have some credence. If you’re not willing to give the terrorized rape victim her morning-after pill, she can dismiss you as a nut-job and pick up some sugar to pour in your gas tank at the next pharmacy she goes to, which will fill her prescription. But imagine for a second you live in Outer Bumblefuck, Wyoming. There’s only one pharmacist for a couple hundred miles. You’re scared. Your condom broke, and you want to make sure you don’t get pregnant and incur the beatings of Daddy and the local congregation. You go to said pharmacist. He says he won’t fill your prescription because of his religious beliefs. What happens to you now? Shit.

One of the most infuriating aspects of my liberalism to conservatives is that I do think there are guiding moral principles. I just don’t think they’re found in Leviticus. One of those principles is that, in almost all cases, your individual rights end where the rights of the community/general public/society writ large begin. You don’t have the right to play your stereo at 130 dB at 3 in the morning because it infringes on the rights of the people that live near you. You don’t have the right to break and enter someone’s home to proselytize your religion, even though you do have a freedom of religion. Similarly, when you’re the only game in town when it comes to medical services, you don’t have the right to refuse to fill that prescription. As much as you may hate it, the FDA and most rational healthcare providers have decided that Plan B and condoms and so forth are useful, and ought to be available to people that jump through the appropriate hoops (getting a prescription, in this case). By declining to fill this prescription, you are forcing your beliefs upon someone who clearly wishes you would just give me the pill, oh god, before someone sees me here and asks questions and what am I going to do and why is this pencil-dick giving me a hard time?

As horrible and especially-hot-place-in-hell-reserving as this is, it pales in comparison to the little aside about some of these doctors refusing to give the patient back their prescription after refusing to fill it. Your prescriptions, as part and parcel of your medical record, are your legal property. Not the doctor’s. Not the pharmacist’s. Not your HMO’s. They are yours and yours alone, and you have the unquestionable right to demand it at any time, with or without approval of the doctor/pharmacist/HMO. Which means in Texas, where defense of life, limb or property is a valid defense for using deadly force, I’d be within my rights to shoot the pharmacist in the head and pry my prescription out of his cold dead hands. Not that I would advocate exercising that particular provision of Texas law, but jeebus. To me, something like that is akin to taking your car in for an oil change and having the Jiffy Lube guy refuse to give it back because he thinks your choice of motor oil is sinful, and the windshield wiper fluid is the spawn of the devil. It’s ludicrous. It’s indefensible. And yes, it’s morally repugnant.

Some might say that my principle outlined above works in reverse: society should have the right to override an individual’s right to privacy and outlaw abortion. To them I say, Mr. President, you’re not my president and Ms. Coulter, you’re not even human. It’s analogous to negative politeness in linguistics, attending to one’s need not to be bothered. Impositions on freedoms are to be minimized. The assumption is that you’re free to do something without interference unless otherwise specified. The pharmacist who refuses to give out Plan B is violating the “negative right” of the patient: the right not to have someone else’s beliefs impede the practices of her freedoms. The “Moral Majority” (neither moral nor a majority…discuss) wanting to outlaw abortion is similarly impinging on negative freedoms that should remain untouched. To further illustrate: a pro-choice MD does not have the right to force a Southern Baptist patient to have a D&C, because it impinges on the Baptist’s right to her negative freedoms: not to have someone else intrude on her personal decisions. In other words, you don’t want an abortion? Don’t have one. But don’t tell me I can’t, either. You want to drink vodka? Even if I were a teetotaler (ha!), I’d have to say as long as you’re not going to be driving or caring for a child, knock yourself out.

I realize this is rather disjointed, but it is well past midnight and this issue makes me a little nuts. I spent a fair amount of time today imagining what I would do to a pharmacist who wouldn’t fill my Plan B prescription or, God help him, give me back that prescription. I wouldn’t stop at beating him over the head with glucose meters, Trojan Magnums, blood pressure cuffs, or whatever else I could find at the pharmacy counter, that’s for sure. Stand up for your rights, kids, cause henchmen of the right are chipping away insidiously at them under the guise of protecting ‘freedoms’ that don’t exist.

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