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Friday, January 7, 2011

Pharmacy Morals

There is an interesting article from LifeSite News indicating that a pharmacist in Toronto has been convinced to stop selling emergency contraception by an anti-choice customer. The pharmacy is the Medicine Shoppe at 515 St. Claire Ave. West. The LifeSite article has the address wrong, but I want you to have it right, so you can specifically avoid this place.

This issue is a troublesome one indeed. The pharmacist, one Allan Rothman, indicates that although he has agreed to stop selling Plan B, he is obliged to direct women to a place where they can access the medication. Apparently, in the moral world of Mr. Rothman, it's okay to tell them about it, but not to sell it. I find this kind of quibbling irksome. But whatever. (Anyone who wants to think more about Moral Quibbling, please refer to Sam Harris's book, The Moral Landscape. An interesting read.) Of course, any attempt to deter a woman from accessing emergency medication is fraught. Time is of the essence. That is the very definition of emergency.  But luckily a quick google search indicates there are several other pharmacies within a stone's throw of Mr. Rothman's Medicine Shoppe. (Maybe the old time spelling is a good indicator for it's out of date ethos.)  For example, there is a Shopper's Drug Mart at 523 St. Claire Ave. West you might consider shopping at instead. There are many other choices too. I haven't checked, but I imagine one or more of these pharmacies would be happy to dispense your medicine without dispensing morality at the same time.

Just for fun, here is a quote from the article:

"Pavlick [the anti-choice customer] told LifeSiteNews that as she entered Rothman’s store, she saw a single box of Plan B behind the counter, and a manual on the desk called 'Emergency Contraception.' She told Rothman that she was switching from Shopper’s because they were selling Plan B, and she explained that the drug is an abortifacient. According to Pavlick, Rothman agreed.

Noting that he was Jewish, she compared his situation with guards in the Nazi death camps. At the Nuremberg trials the concentration camp guards had argued that they were not guilty in the murder of Jews and others because they were simply following orders, she said. Nevertheless the court found them complicit because they had not actively opposed the murders.

'We are facing the same verdict if we don’t refuse cooperation here too,' she said.

Clearly moved by the comparison, Rothman walked over to the shelf and removed the Plan B box, she said.

'Merry Christmas,' he told her.

'Merry Christmas and God bless you,' she responded. 'I’ll be back - faithfully. ... There are a lot more like me who’ll be thankful too.'"

I particularly love how they frame the whole event as a Christmas Miracle. Indeed, God Bless Us Every One. And don't get me started on the Nazi thing.

Rothman, however, suggests in another part of the article that his decision is economic. So, please do consider boycotting this store, and perhaps other Medicine Shoppes as well. Go to a pharmacy that respects your right to access emergency contraception.

For context, pharmacists have often been in the forefront of the struggles for reproductive freedom. It was the arrest of pharmacist Harold Fine in 1960 that spurred George and Barbara Cadbury to create Planned Parenthood. Fine was arrested in Toronto for distributing information about contraception. Yes, even giving information about contraception was against the law then. Hard to believe. The Cadburys then went on to lead a massive campaign that resulted in legalized contraception in Canada in 1969. In Calgary, local legend has it that the pharmacist at the former Telstar Drugs risked everything to sell condoms before they were legal. That is why it was my pharmacy of choice until it closed. So Mr. Rothman, like other pharmacists before him, has placed himself in the middle of the culture wars. Too bad for him he is on the wrong side.

By the way, LifeSite news recently issued a call for donations. Apparently, they are struggling financially. Two interesting things here if you read the link. First, the relationship between LifeSite in Canada and their parent in the US could not be clearer. Those who think the anti-choice movement in Canada is not directed by American interests should read this. Second, they have a lot of money compared to the pro-choice movement, yet still are losing big time in the battle for public opinion. I can't help but be cheered by this.

I'd hate to see LifeSite go down. It's a great source of information for pro-choice activists. But you won't find me making a donation.

Meanwhile, the article on the pharmacy does include all of their contact information. Do with it what you will.

1 comment:

  1. On second thought, perhaps instead of a boycott, go into the store and ask for Plan B, whether you need it or not. Imagine if he thinks he's losing all kinds of business!


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