Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Moral Agency vs. Consumer Autonomy: No Contest

According to a new CBS poll, only 16% of Americans believe that a pharmacist who opposes birth control should be able to refuse to sell birth control pills.  Among Catholics, the number increases to a whopping 21%.  The question ("Should pharmacists opposed to birth control be able to refuse to sell birth control pills?") is imprecise enough that it's unclear whether respondents were indicating their opposition to affirmative statutory protection for such exercises of conscience (precluding employment termination, etc.) or whether they actually mean that pharmacists should be legally required to dispense the pills.  The difference is key, from a subsidiarity perspective.  It's one thing to say that an individual pharmacist should have immunity from any negative repercussions when they defy the policy of the company that employs them (protecting conscience as a matter of individual empowerment); it's quite another to say that all pharmacists everywhere should be required by law to offer all services not prohibited by law, regardless of how morally objectionable those services might be (trumping conscience as a collective mandate).  In any event, the poll numbers are an indication of how firmly grounded consumer autonomy is in modern Americans' understanding of social order.  (Thanks to CT for the lead.)



Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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» 84% Oppose Freedom of Conscience?????? from The Seventh Age
A few weeks back, we brought you the story of Neal Noeson, a pharmacist who is under legal attack for refusing to fill a prescription for oral contraceptives. Sensing the gravity of this issue, CBS has conducted a poll designed... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 29, 2004 4:42:40 PM