Can’t do the job – don’t do the job

September 29, 2007

This story highlights the problem when religion mixes in society. When a woman is prescribed a drug by her doctor, it would be reasonable to presume that a dispensing chemist would supply that drug. One would imagine that the only reason that the chemist should have to refuse to supply would be that the prescription was invalid – perhaps forged or tampered with. Apparently that is not the case if the drug is the morning after pill, and the chemist is religious.

I cannot see how this is a defensible position; a person who choses to become a pharmacist must be aware that that job entails dispensing contraceptive drugs. If that person feels that they would be unable to perform this vital part of their job, they quite simply should choose another career. This is not a choice that affects just them. The woman in this story was both unnecessarily embarrassed and inconvenienced. Nobody is expecting the pharmacist to take the damn drug themselves; just to do their damn job

I’m also extremely disappointed by the position taken by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Their position appears to be that because the woman was referred to another chemist, everything is okay: but this is likely only to be true if the chemist is located in a large town. Imagine if this woman lived in a small rural village, and the chemist was the only one available locally. According to the ‘ethics’ laid down the the RPS, it is perfectly acceptable to require the woman to travel – at her expense and inconvenience – to the next nearest town or village just to find a chemist who is prepared to do their job. This is unacceptable; the woman – through no fault of her own – is now penalised for someone else’s dubious philosophical position.

This, to me, highlights the problem of religious privilege. There is no good reason for the RPS to support the position it does except to avoid the ire of religious organisations. They have put in place a policy that essentially says that one can be registered to do a job one is not prepared to do, and that is okay because – although it is potentially costly and highly inconvenient for the customer – the customer/patient can be ‘referred’. I wonder how they marry this position with this.

Shut up Giuliani

September 21, 2007

From the BBC:

US Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has criticised the record of the NHS during a visit to London

Yuh, because America has such a fine health care system:

“I had prostate cancer seven years . My chance of survival in the US is 82%; my chance of survival if I was here in England is below 50%. Breast cancer is very similar.

This is clearly from the “Numbers I pulled out of my arse” department.  According to Cancer Research, in the UK, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in men is 71%. Not exactly the “below 50%” claimed by Giuliani.  Of course, making any such statement is utter nonsense anyway – to state “survival rate for cancer x is y” overlooks the problem of categorizing the various stages of that cancer, as this page shows. Oh, and breast cancer survival rates appear to be similar.

 So when Giuliani says:

“Healthcare right now in America – and I think it has been true of your experience of socialised medicine in England – is not only very expensive, it’s increasingly less effective.

 He’s clearly talking utter tripe.  Well, not quite, American health care is insanely expensive and if you get prostate cancer and do not have insurance, you’re dead (an excellent example of this can be found in Lance Amstrong’s autobiography – insurance problems don’t just affect the poor), health care in the UK is pretty shoddy but you will get treated. 


Missing The Point

September 21, 2007

Via the National Secular Society, I came across this example of a good catholic completely missing the point.  Arguing that the Catholic Church’s recent decision to cut ties with Amnesty International, the letter writer states:

  Not because it is indifferent to the awful sufferings of women made pregnant through rape or lack of birth-control facilities, but because it faces an almighty dilemma. Is the child in the womb a human being or not?        

This is simply not true.  The Catholic Church is not just against abortion, the Catholic Church is against any and all forms of ‘birth-control facilities’.  Let’s be quite clear on this: the Catholic position is not that abortion is bad because “abortion is murder”, or whatever other slogans the self-styled “pro-life” organisations come up with, the Catholic position is that “abortion is contraception”, and – according to Catholic doctrine – all contraception is bad. So the Catholic Church simply does not recognise the dilemma this  person would like it to.

 The Church’s position is utterly indefensible irrespective of one’s position on abortion per-se, because the Church’s position on abortion is simply an extension of its ridiculous notion that any and all forms of contraception is “a sin”.

 Arguments can be made for and against abortion at given stages of development, but when made by the Catholic Church they are disingenuous, because the Church does not want to simply stop women having access to safe, legal abortion facilities, they want to stop women having access to any form of birth-control facilities whatsoever.