July 14, 2004

Access denied

Apparently anti-abortion pharmacists and doctors have been refusing to prescribe or distribute the Pill and other such contraceptives, construing them as potentially a form of abortion when a `breakthrough fertilization' fails to be implanted (though, as I understand it, the Pill does not make it more or less likely that a fertilized egg will implant successfully).
"Refusing women access to the Pill is a very disturbing trend," says Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The war on choice is not just about abortion anymore. It's about our right to birth control."

One of the many inadequacies of the Roe decision was that it legalized abortion to give medical professionals, eg, doctors and pharmacists, more freedom to determine treaments, prescriptions, and so on, instead of legalizing abortion to give women autonomy over their own bodies. Under the former perspective, these anti-abortion doctors and pharmacists may withhold the Pill from women at their discretion; under the latter, feminist, perspective, pharmacists have no right to act as a gatekeeper to a woman's access to the Pill or other forms of contraception.
"I have a hard time with people who market themselves as women's health care physicians but who won't prescribe such a basic part of women's health care," says Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, a reproductive rights ethicist and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center. "We're seeing a growing trend among pharmacists and medical practitioners who consider it acceptable to impose their morality on women's bodies. I don't think moral aspects should be a concern. Imagine a pharmacist asking a customer whether his Viagra prescription is to enhance sexual performance in his marriage or in an extramarital affair. Never!"

Incidentally, a doctor who no longer prescribes the Pill is quoted as saying "I think most women feel life begins at fertilization". While I can't speak for this today, it is certain not true historically; traditionally the beginning of life was associated with quickening (when the woman can feel the foetus kick, not when the Immortals start cutting each others' heads off).


Anonymous said...

Brandon says:

I just love how he says he's just doing what women think they want, because silly women never have a view different than us alpha males.

Noumena said...

I believe that last quotation ("I think most women ...") happened to have been made by a woman. But substitute `elite professionals' for `alpha males', and I'd agree with Brandon sarcastic comment wholeheartedly.

MosBen said...

Although I'm not sure I want to require doctors to do whatever a patient requests of them unless the situation is either extremely time sensitive or the patient has no access to doctors who will do their wishes. As long as the patient has the option of seeking help elsewhere, I do value the perogative of doctors to act within their own ethics as their ethics aren't completely unreasonable. Again, this only applies if the patients have options.

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