03 January 2006

Walgreens in Lafayette Has Refusal Policy

The Walgreens pharmacy in Lafayette, Colorado, has pharmacists on staff who make it their business to tell customers what medicines they should be taking, thus asserting the right to make ethical decisions for their customers without patient involvement. Note, this is not simply a matter of company policy, this is a case of a pharmacy actually having someone on staff who will refuse to give people the medicines that their doctor has prescribed for them, and not some uncommon medicine, but oral contraceptives and/or emergency contraception (which is the same thing in different doses). I've gone to pharmacies on occassion to pick up each of those things (without incident, including a Walgreens pharmacy in Denver). In both cases, timing is critical. And, the further you get from Colorado's urban centers, the less opportunity there is to seek an alternative.

It is the sort of thing that makes your face turn red. Walgreens certainly has proven it is capable of meeting customers medical needs, disciplining pharmacists for failing to follow doctor's orders in Illinois, where pharmacists aren't allowed to impose their views on their customers (incidentally the "anti-ACLU" is pursuing a wrongful employment action case on behalf of those pharmacists right now). Other chains have done the right thing, even without the law forcing them to do so.

A few fringe anti-abortion activists equate oral contraceptions with abortion. But, this is a fringe view and not one that should be imposed by a pharmacist at a national pharmacy chain on a customer. The duty to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs does not extent to refusing to do your job entirely because of them. If you can't ethically do a job, you should find another line of work.


Anonymous said...

Dear Andy, I'm currently a pharmacist working for a chain and don't want to dispense contracecptives but I can't quit because I have a wife and 3 kids to feed. It amuses me how people's quikest reaction to a moral dilemena is to run from it. I would run from my "moral" dilemena, except that thanks to people like you that patronize large corporations that dispense contraceptives, small independents like me can't compete. Why don't you draft a "Bill of Rights" for people like me that don't want to be pushed around by people like big corporations. I mean being a lawyer and all I'm sure you care about justice and equality. I don't care if you kill your baby embryos, but why should I be a participant in your infanticide. It seems to me you want me to be a co-conspirator which if this is the case, you don't really care about diff. points of views.
By the way, I used to work for Walgreens and met their vice-president. His corporate strategy was to have a store in every corner untill there was "not 1 independent pharmacy standing" Is this what you support??? Another Wal-mart???

Anonymous said...

I with you Anon, these corporate weasels are totally stepping on the little guys' individuality. assimilate or die.