Protecting Christian Health-Care Providers

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The FDA is expected to announce any day whether it will permit over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after pill." The manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, has proposed that the pill be made available to anyone over the age of 16 without a prescription. Whether under-age youth will gain access to it remains to be seen, but it's my contention they will have no more difficulty in getting the powerful drug than they do in getting alcohol. But that's another issue for another time.

The question I now have concerns those who own, operate and work in the retail drug establishments. What happens if a pharmacist elects not to sell the morning-after pill -- high doses of hormones that can kill the human embryo early, before it implants in the uterus. If over-the-counter sales of the drug become legal, will they be forced to provide it?

Amazingly, pharmacists across the country are already dealing with this issue because they have decided not to fill birth-control pills of any kind. Late last year, CBS News featured one such pharmacist in Louisiana, Lloyd Duplantis.

The Christian Action League recently spoke with Mr. Duplantis about his decision not to fill birth-control prescriptions. We wanted to know how the exposure on CBS News had affected him and his business. Duplantis said he had heard nothing but encouragement for his stand. "The local community has been very supportive," he said. "It's really been quite overwhelming. They seem to understand very clearly my motives are not just religious, although they're religious based, but I'm concerned that these are dangerous chemicals that can kill, maim or destroy either the person taking them or their unborn child."

"This is the same issue that's being raised about VIOXX," Duplantis added. "We don't have an issue with controlling fertility; we are just saying that the pill is destroying people."

Duplantis belongs to an organization known as Pharmacists for Life International, an association of pharmacy professionals that is exclusively pro-life. The organization's motto is: "Let the gift of medicines promote life, not destroy life."

It's unfortunate, but you can believe if Duplantis had received attention on CBS News for refusing to fill a prescription for VIOXX, because he was concerned for a patient's health, he would have been hailed as a national hero. But because he refuses to provide drugs that are dangerous abortifaciants, CBS News portrayed him as an intolerant religious bigot who forces his religious views onto health care.

Duplantis agrees the issue is politically fueled. "I'm raising this issue because it's dangerous, but they're hearing 'birth control, Catholic church, religion,'" he said. "I'm trying to say 'dangerous' while they're saying 'religious fanatic.'"

According to Pharmacists for Life's website, the organization has over 1,600 professional members and hundreds of lay supporters. Pharmacists for Life was birthed in part because of the number of pharmacists who are facing legal action for refusing to fill birth-control pills on the basis of religious and moral objections. With the morning-after pill already on the scene -- and the possibility it may soon become almost as simple to buy as aspirin -- members of the organization are deeply concerned about legal action that may be forthcoming against their colleagues, if they refuse to provide the medication.

For instance, Pharmacists for Life is currently following the case of Neil Noesen, a pharmacist in Wisconsin, who in 2002 worked as an independent contractor at a K-Mart pharmacy and refused to refill a woman's birth-control prescription because it was against his religion. Amazingly, Wisconsin responded by trying to take away Noesen's license to dispense medication in that state.

Because of such cases, and the potential for others like it, Pharmacists for Life is calling for federal and state lawmakers to pass "conscience clause" legislation that would protect the rights of pharmacists who wish to avoid dispensing hormone-containing birth-control pills, which can operate by abortive means -- that is, by taking a human life.

Sadly, the Noesen case is yet another profound demonstration of the left's blatant hypocrisy. The same liberal activists that tout the "separation of church and state," demanding people of faith not "cram their views down our throats," apparently don't believe such a right ought to be applied both ways. Liberals want to force their agenda on others and those who don't believe as they believe better get ready for forced compliance. If they truly believed in the separation of church and state as they often claim, then why won't they fight against the government's interference with an individual's right to follow his/her faith with regard to the practice of abortion?

Even organizations that are against abortions, but take no stand on birth control, are concerned about the ramifications of forcing medical professionals to provide services they find religiously offensive.

"We don't take a stand on contraceptives," said Barbara Holt of North Carolina Right to Life, "However, the national (Right to Life) organization worked on the federal level to make sure there was legislation that provided a 'conscious clause' for health-care providers and hospitals in particular so they don't have to provide services which are against their beliefs."

Mrs. Holt is referring to the Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment, which was signed into law by President Bush last December as part of the 2005 Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The legislation grants freedom of choice to a "health-care entity," which means an individual physician or other health-care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health-care facility, organization, or plan, does not have to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

The bill is certainly an excellent step in the right direction. Nevertheless, a suggested improvement to this class of legislation is to base it upon the avoidance of stopping human life purposefully, rather than upon the term "abortion" which has been obfuscated by false statements from various groups that support early chemical abortion and killing early human embryos for research, vaccine production and transplantation purposes.

Unfortunately various pro-abortion groups, including the ACLU, are challenging the kinds of legislation that protect the human rights of health-care providers. Such is considerably disconcerting when the non-elected judiciary branch of government constantly delays or thwarts the will of the American people with regard to abortion. For this reason, there has been the need to bring forth duplicate and overlapping legislation, and this will continue until those judicial officials who support the purposeful killing of various classes of humans are replaced.

On January 25, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a suit challenging the Hyde Weldon Amendment. Only God knows what the courts will rule. Nevertheless, the ACLU and their ilk have praised Lockyer for bringing suit. It's obvious the desire by some to purposely kill humans prior to birth supplants the human right of others to refuse to participate in that killing. For Americans of conscience, I believe the ACLU and others like them are public enemy number one.

The rights of health-care professionals who refuse to provide a drug or medical procedure, based on personal religious objections, ought to be vigorously protected on the federal and state levels. If those suing pharmacists succeed, what will it be next? Will pharmacists be forced to fill prescriptions for assisted suicides? Will doctors be told to provide abortions or go to jail? Where will it end?

The rights of Christian health-care providers who believe in the sanctity of human life deserve to be protected too. This is yet another case where the religious rights of Christians are being threatened today. It's just another example of how liberal activists fight to see everyone's rights are protected -- unless, of course, those individuals happen to be followers of Christ.