Wednesday, March 30, 2005
As I've noted previously, the battle over pharmacists' ability to take moral responsibility for their professional conduct continues to heat up. Yesterday the Washington Post ran a front-page article on the issue, including the story of:
Neil T. Noesen, who in 2002 refused to fill a University of Wisconsin student's birth control pill prescription at a Kmart in Menomonie, Wis., or transfer the prescription elsewhere. An administrative judge last month recommended Noesen be required to take ethics classes, alert future employers to his beliefs and pay what could be as much as $20,000 to cover the costs of the legal proceedings. The state pharmacy board will decide whether to impose that penalty next month.
According to the New York Times' Paul Krugman, the trend toward "conscience" legislation to protect pharmacists like Noesen is another example of rampant religious extremism in this country:
The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister, and everyone realizes that Ariel Sharon is at risk.
America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.
So unless we use the coercive power of the state to force all pharmacists to make available all legal pharmaceutical products, we are inviting political assassinations and anarchy. And Krugman styles himself a moderate?