Field of Science

Jobs and morals

There has been much discussion lately regarding the "rights" of pharmacists and doctors to not fulfill prescriptions/treat patients depending on their personal morals. Inevitably this comes down to religion not ethics not philosophy not rationale thought. Just religion. (While this is a relatively new blog you will find a recurrent theme.........wait for it......Religion sucks)

Now this topic has been addressed by others (for example see PZ Myers) and I am probably stating thoughts that have been expressed by others. However, hearing things a different way can be informative. Regardless I find the whole issue to be, in a word, bullshit and here is why:

The slippery slope approach. Real example: 1. a fundamentalist christian pharmacist chooses NOT to fill a prescription for the morning after pill. Has happened and in fact several states are considering legislation to protect the right of these “healers” to not only not provide a legal service, but to also allow them to not provide accurate information. For example, one deciding not to provide service would not have to recommend a physician/pharmacy that does provide said service.
So lets consider several other hypothetical examples in increasing insanity; 2. A roman catholic pharmacist decides not to fill birth control prescriptions. 3. A roman catholic pharmacist decides to fill birth control prescriptions with placebo. 4. A fundamentalist (pick a religion) refuses to fill prescriptions for an HIV+ patient. 5. A klu klux klan pharmacist decides to not fill any prescriptions for a black or any other disparaged patient. 6. A fundamentalist refuses to fill antibiotic prescriptions to a 10 year old child. 7. A religio-nazi only fills prescriptions to members of their specific faith.
First, I consider scenario 1 (the one that’s happened) and scenario 6 equally insane. I made the list by increasing absurdity in today’s culture, but in practice are these scenarios are all absurd. Some people are in favor of example 1, which is why short-sighted legislators are voting in favor of it. Example 2 is a direct extension of example 1, thus not a stretch. I mean if your religious convictions can allow you to not fill morning after pill prescriptions, why can’t your religious convictions allow you to not fill a birth control prescription. Example 3 is a variation of example 2 but more extreme. Obviously, swapping a prescription with placebo is illegal. But really, in this day and age in this country, I can envision this happening and the pharmacist getting a free pass because he/she did not directly endanger the life of the patient and were only acting on their deep seated beliefs. Example 4 is simply due to the belief that AIDS is the sky god’s punishment on a given lifestyle, a view expressed on the floor of Congress during the AIDS epidemic. Example 5 is absurd, the repercussions would be extreme, although I expect the issue would be washed over by the resignation of said pharmacist and the presentation that said patient could have gone somewhere else to get the prescription filled. Examples 6 and 7 are even more absurd and won’t happen in this country unless the theocrats truly take over and suspend (read burn) the Constitution. The point is, if we allow someone to decide which prescriptions to fill or which patients to treat based on religious beliefs, where do we draw the line? who do we want to draw the line? Religious beliefs have no logical frameworks, yet we allow them to guide major decisions on those who do not share those beliefs.

Is it the pharmacist’s place do decide when a morning after pill is given? What if a 14 year old girl is raped by her father?
Pharmacist: “I’m sorry dear, but my personal belief in god, means I cannot in good conscience fill this morning after pill prescription. You should have saved yourself for marriage.”
Girl: “But I didn’t have sex.”
Pharmacist: “Look god will forgive you for being a little whore, but not if you kill a child and I am not going to assist in jeopardizing your soul.”
Girl (whispering): “But I was raped”
Pharmacist: “Well that’s too bad dear. But that isn’t the fault of your potential fetus. Further, you shouldn’t have put yourself in that situation, were you at a rave or drinking, you just bring it on your self. (To passing customer) “Hi Ellen, we seeing you at prayer meeting tomorrow?”
Girl: (whispering even softer): “It wasn’t my dad raped me.”
Pharmacist: “Well, that would be different if it was true, but how can I know. If you could prove it I guess I could fill your prescription. If you haven’t already, report it to the police and if there is enough evidence to convict your father, Ill fill your prescription.”
Girl: “But, but that would take months!”
Pharmacist: “Maybe, maybe not.....I’ll pray for you dear.”

The slippery slope part II. Since pharmacists and doctors have begun meting out services based on religious convictions, why not other professions. Police will only serve and protect the majority religious group in that community. Serving people of other or no religious faith may be seen as accepting or taking other gods and the primary sky god in America don’t play that. Same for firefighters. Teachers will only have to teach that which is in keeping with their religious beliefs....a big boon to the creationists.

Here’s a thought, you don't want to fill legal prescriptions because of superstition and perverse beliefs.....GET ANOTHER FUCKING JOB!


So how to start.....Welcome and thanks for coming. I'll start by answering a few questions regarding who I am and what the purpose of this blog is and is not

Who am I? Tough question. Most relevant is I am a family guy (not The family guy), husband and father. I am a scientist, assistant professor of microbiology at a major research institution. I am also an opinionated bastard or at least have been called that. I am not politically correct, or at the very least, I do not actively try to be. I am happy to call a spade a spade and will not pussyfoot around an issue because someone will get offended (and I promise you that someone will get offended). If you are easily offended go read another blog. I do not tolerate stupidity and I expect much from people (yes I am generally disappointed). I am not perfect and will admit to a mistake if I make one, though it doesnt happen often. I do not know everything and enjoy learning new things and ideas.

What is the purpose of this blog? Well in short I think a lot about many issues and want to share those thoughts with others. Over the last 10 or so years, I have thought much about science and the impact of science on society as a whole. One thing I have decided is that scientists, as a whole, suck at interacting with society. We have our champions, notably Carl Sagan and Stephen J, Gould and Richard Dawkins, but by and large, we live in our labs, talk with our colleagues, and go on our merry way. At one time, I think this probably worked well, because society (of course I am specifically refering to American society) had a healthy respect and appreciation for science. I think that has fundamentally changed over the last few decades for a variety of reasons we can explore at another time. Now I think a good proportion of society does not understand the power of science, does not appreciate science, nor does it have respect for science. In short I see a real backlash against science by our society and firmly believe this is ultimately a very bad thing for us all.

What is not the purpose of this blog? Hmm not sure. Because many of my blogs will be about religion and pseudoscience I will attract people who disagree with me or as I like to call them, idiots. This will immediately lead to flames from said idiots which may lead to rebuttal flames from non-idiots. I do not want this blog to become a perpetual flame war. So, feel free to comment but I would like to end with a quote, whose source I have forgotten, "I'll be less mean, if you be less stupid."