The continuing saga of a pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for oral contraceptives. (My commentary will be in the extended entry)
An early alert to the story
The nasty comment at the beginning of the fooforaw
further nastiness and 50+ comments
The Culture War at the Revealer
Mark Shea gets snide
Mark Shea gets serious
Bene Diction's thoughts
My commentary over at The Revealer, in response to Jeff Sharlet's article (which side are you on?).
Hi Jeff - I have some opinions about this myself, but first let me say that the angry/vituperative comments box rhetoric was probably a case of response in kind to the less than charitable language your writer used in her articles. Name calling does tend to beget name calling, as anyone who has ever observed children on a playground knows all too well. And I think that there has been more than a reasonable amount of childish behavior exhibited here.
I will also admit to being surprised that you don't see the reality of the culture wars. From where I sit, the wars are real and heating up. I think that we can date this particular culture war, which I think is really about the meaning of life and human personhood, to the debates preceeding the 1930s Lambeth conference, in which the Anglican communion reversed nearly 2000 years of consistent christian teaching against contraception and abortion. By endorsing the limited use of contraception within marriage the Anglican communion started us down the slippery slope (another controversial idea) to where we are now in terms of human life issues.
Those of us who are in the minority position (Humanae Vitae Catholics, many Eastern Orthodox Christians, most Orthodox/Chasidic Jews, some Muslims, some Evangelical Christians) can sometimes get to despairing as we see the pace accelerating down that slope. G.K. Chesterton had some pretty astute observations at the time of Lambeth, and I highly recommend the collection "Brave New Family" for quotes from his essays surrounding this issue. I also highly recommend reading the early Christian writings, especially the Didache and the sermons of John Chrysotom, for a longer term perspective on the idea of Christianity being in a culture war against a pagan society with a culture of death.
I will admit that in my younger days I didn't see how contraception connected to abortion connected to eugenics connected to euthanasia connected to genocide - but my 3+ decades of study and reading of history make me very afraid for the future of our culture and our society.
I didn't used to understand how an altruistic humanist could become a Dr. Mengele - but as I watch the political battles about embryonic stem cell research it becomes ever more clear. The gulf is in the definition of human personhood - between those who define that a life is a human person beginning with the union of sperm and egg, and those who would define that life as not having personhood until some point later on - possibly even as late as months after birth (as supported by Peter Singer).
If one defines personhood and a right to continued life to begin with the union of sperm and egg, then one has a duty to do all that is possible to preserve that life.
If some activists had their way, no one would be allowed to practice the medical professions who holds the view that personhood begins at conception. These extremists (and they are out there)demand that all gynecological providers be willing and able to perform abortion on demand. They would prevent those opposed to contraception from becoming doctors, nurses, midwives, etc. They would force hospitals to perform sterilizations or lose their licenses. We have seen it in California where Catholic Charities is fighting against being commanded to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion. We see it in the attempts in New York to force Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill in the ED. We see it in cases like this pharmacist, and the one in NH who refused to fill an Rx for the morning after pill. (BTW - are you aware that part of the campaign for the morning after pill says 'it isn't an abortifacient' because of just that redefinition of when personhood begins? and that they point out that the post-fertilization effects of the morning after pill are basically the same as the regular contraceptive pill - so that anyone who prescribes or defends the regular pill should have no moral qualms about the morning after pill). Hey, maybe the publicity campaign (aimed at health care providers)for the morning after pill is part of why many pharmacists have started to have qualms of conscience about the regular pill!
Anyhow, this is a much deeper topic than it seems at first glance, and it is no surprise that the responses have been heated.
(a comment I made in another forum) In my opinion, the tone and content of the editorial that Jeff Sharlet chose to allow to be posted is extremely nasty. If it was satire I failed to see the humor. Calling some one a misogynist because he chooses to exercise a conscience clause was just the beginning.
Given the known negative side effects of artificial hormone therapy (including but not limited to contraceptives) one might even be considered misogynistic for filling some of these prescriptions.
The bigger issue is that the forces of political correctness are intent upon forcing their world view upon dissenters - by trying to mandate that Catholic hospitals perform abortions, for example. ( I don't have the citations at hand but the issue comes up repeatedly). Would we force Jewish hospitals to serve pork or cheeseburgers? Do we demand that Christian Scientists undergo surgery?
There is a dearth of Humanae Vitae observant Catholics in obstetrics in the USA, primarily because Alan Guttmacher MD succeeded in re-defining women's health care to mandate contraception, sterilization, and abortion. If a medical student has personal or religious beliefs that rule out such activities, he or she had better go into dermatology or something remote from women's health care, especially in the USA.
I can forsee that Humanae Vitae observant Catholics may end up ghettoizing themselves because the predominant culture is so very hostile to their core values.