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.