Pharmacists Penalized for Pro-Life Practices

Four Illinois pharmacists have found out there is a price to pay for exercising their pro-life convictions.

The Walgreen Co. placed four of its pharmacists on indefinite, unpaid leave November 28, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The four, all working at Walgreen stores in the Illinois suburbs east of St. Louis, had declined to abide by a state rule that requires pharmacists to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, including the "morning-after" pill, even if it violates their consciences.

Many people with pro-life views consider the "morning-after" pill, also known as emergency contraception, to be an abortifacient because it not only restricts ovulation in a woman but it can act after conception. The method can block implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall, thereby causing an abortion, pro-lifers point out.

Illinois is the only state to have a rule requiring pharmacists to dispense the "morning-after" pill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who issued the rule earlier this year, said after the discipline of the four Walgreen pharmacists, "If a woman has a prescription for contraceptives, they ought to be filling that," the Post-Dispatch reported.

A Walgreen spokesman told the Post-Dispatch the pharmacists could transfer to a store in Missouri, where such a policy is not in effect.

John Menges, 39, who was removed from his position at an Edwardsville, Illinois, store, said it is only a matter of time before Missouri has a rule that "takes away his religious freedoms."

"I'm not going around the country running from this," he told the Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat.

The pharmacists are hopeful the state's conscience clause will protect them, according to the Bellevue newspaper.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved prescription use of two brands of the "morning-after" pill, Preven and Plan B. The FDA is considering whether it will permit over-the-counter sale of Plan B without a prescription to women sixteen years of age and older.

Baptist Press



Public Health Officials Ignore the Obvious — At the Expense of Human Lives

A deadly virus is sweeping through nations, killing millions, and if people don't want to catch it, they must consider changing their sexual behavior, a Harvard researcher told Baptist Press.

The public health establishment, meanwhile, has failed to recognize the obvious in assessing AIDS prevention methods because it fears endorsing a perceived religious conservatism related to abstinence and faithfulness, Edward C. Green, a research scientist at Harvard University and author of "Rethinking AIDS Prevention," said.

"It's so insane that [abstinence and faithfulness] has not been part of the advice from the beginning," Green said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development shelved Green's 2003 report on AIDS prevention methods in Africa and hired a condom advocate to conduct another study instead. Green had concluded that the "ABC" method — Abstinence, Being faithful in marriage, and Condoms only for high-risk populations — was most effective in the dramatic reduction of AIDS cases in Uganda.

"Some people say ABC is not new, it has been around and we've always had that. Maybe it has been around as an unofficial policy, but no one has put money or programs into the promotion of abstinence or fidelity outside of religious groups."

Despite the lack of funding, Green said there is a trend in Africa toward more abstinence and fidelity. He found that if you ask people in those countries why they're choosing those methods, it's typically because some religious group told them they have to do it or they'll die.

Baptist Press



A Romney Reversal

It appears Massachusetts hospitals with pro-life policies will not gain an exemption from a state law requiring the "morning-after" pill to be offered to rape victims.

Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, reversed himself December 8, only two days after supporting a proposed regulation by Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr., who said a previous law protects hospitals from being forced to perform abortions or distribute contraceptives, according to the Associated Press. "We feel very clearly that the two laws don't cancel each other out and basically work in harmony with each other," Cote said, AP reported.

Romney's legal advisers, however, told him the new law makes the previous one obsolete in this case, he said.

"On that basis I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view," Romney said, according to AP. "In my personal view, it's the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape."

The new law, which was passed over Romney's veto, will take effect December 14, AP reported. Massachusetts will be the eighth state to require hospitals to provide the "morning-after" pill to rape victims, according to AP. None provides an exemption for religious and moral objections, AP reported.

The "morning-after" pill, also known as emergency contraception, is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. Under the regimen, a woman takes two pills within seventy-two hours of sexual intercourse and another dose twelve hours later.

Many pro-lifers contend the "morning-after" pill is an abortifacient because it can act after conception, in addition to restricting ovulation. The method can block implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall, thereby causing an abortion, pro-lifers point out.

Baptist Press



Giving the Gift — of Stem Cells

British shoppers were able to consider stem cells as a gift option this Christmas.

Parents and grandparents purchased Christmas gift certificates for the storage of infants' stem cells this season. Smart Cells International, one of a growing number of companies willing to collect and store stem cells from umbilical cord blood, reports it had sold fifty gift certificates for stem cell storage by mid-December and had more than one thousand requests about the service, according to The Daily Telegraph, a British online newspaper.

"The people who have contacted us — primarily current or imminent grandparents — have clearly put great thought into how they can give something very different, but very meaningful," Smart Cells Managing Director Shamshad Ahmed told The Daily Telegraph. "Stem cells may seem to be an offbeat or even bizarre gift, but, in effect, they are a long-lasting insurance policy that has a once-only purchase date."

Smart Cells has stored almost four thousand samples of stem cells from babies' umbilical cords, the newspaper reported.

In the process, blood from an infant's umbilical cord is taken, and stem cells are extracted from the blood and frozen for possible use by the same person if he becomes sick in the future, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Stem cells are the body's master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions. In addition to being extracted from umbilical cord blood, the cells may be found in such sources as bone marrow, fat, and placentas. They also may be extracted from embryos, but their extraction destroys the tiny human being.

Embryonic stem cell research has failed to produce any successful therapies in human beings and has been plagued by the development of tumors in lab animals. Meanwhile, research on stem cells from non-embryonic sources has produced treatments for at least sixty-five ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research. These treatments include spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Baptist Press

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff