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Unformatted text preview: Francesca Bartolomey Final Paper 21A.344 Drugs, Politics and Culture Professor H. Gusterson Emergency Contraception and Refusal Clauses: A Threat to Women Imagine the following scenario. Someone has carelessly left a candle burning in an empty room and soon the house is consumed by flames. A helpful neighbor calls the fire department which quickly dispatches an engine and several firefighters to the location. The owners of the home run a successful leather retail store. The firefighters, staunch advocates for animal rights and active members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, flatly refuse to quell the flames now engulfing the house. Because of their moral beliefs, they will not perform their job. Now imagine a similar situation. A woman enters a pharmacy and requests an emergency contraception pill, for which she has a written prescription from her doctor, but because of his moral beliefs about the drug, the pharmacist refuses to dispense it. He is, in essence, refusing to perform the duties requisite to his job description because of his own moral beliefs. The war on emergency contraception began in early 2004 when despite expert advice, the Food and Drug Administration refused to authorize the sale of emergency contraception over the counter. Representing more than seventy medical and public health organizations, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition with the FDA to grant emergency contraception over-the- 1 counter status. Two advisory panels of the FDA found that the drug met all the criteria necessary for the granting of such status and recommended that this change be made. Typically, after having reached such a verdict, the FDA would accept the advice of the scientific advisors and approve a drug for over-the-counter status, but with emergency contraception it did not. Officials for the FDA issued a statement citing fears of potential teenage promiscuity as the reason that over-the-counter status was denied for emergency contraception. Forty-one members of Congress asked the FDA to rescind its decision. 1 With no sociological evidence to back up this claim, the FDA rejected over-the-counter status for emergency contraception, and faced a wave of criticism for it, based on political reasons. Once considered a fluke in the pharmaceutical business, pharmacists refusal to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception is now seen as an immediate threat to womens reproductive health. Ever since the controversy in which Wal-Mart categorically refused to supply the emergency contraception drug Preven, one by one pharmacists around the country have exercised what they considered to be their right of refusal on religious or moral grounds to supply emergency contraception. A pharmacist in Denton, Texas refused to fill the prescription of a rape survivor for emergency contraception in February 2004. He cited religious convictions as the reason for his refusal....
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- Fall '06