Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Setting the Record Straight

By Josh O.
South Dakota Public Affairs Intern

In a blog posting today, Dakota Voice once again disregarded the health needs of women and disparaged practical steps toward limiting abortion.

Bob Ellis argues that pharmacists should be free to exercise moral judgments on patients by refusing to fill prescriptions that physicians have ordered. Equating birth control, condoms, and emergency contraception with “tobacco and porn,” Bob Ellis trivializes some of the most important health breakthroughs in human history.

Ellis writes that, “Certainly some women are prescribed oral contraceptives, not so much to act as birth control, but to help regulate other health issues. But is this the exception, or the rule?” Does this question even matter? First, Ellis acknowledges that some women require birth control for basic health needs. This should be enough of a reason for pharmacists to be required to provide birth control. But beyond use for basic health needs, Ellis completely ignores the benefits that contraceptives offer for preventing (not terminating) pregnancies. When families are able to decide when to become pregnant, everybody wins. We should be doing everything we can to encourage access to contraception, rather than constrict it. This is especially true if we actually want to limit the total number of abortions rather than just those that are performed safely and legally.

Perhaps Ellis’ most ignorant argument is his scorn for women in need of contraception, which would include rape victims seeking emergency contraception. He writes that when a “pro-life” pharmacy blocks women’s medical treatment, they should just “go to another town, or order their medicine through the mail. Oh, such hardships! If only the answer to all of our needs would just fall into our laps!” Apparently, Ellis is incapable of comprehending the FDA’s caveat that emergency contraception is only effective within 72 hours of intercourse – whether sex is consensual or forced.

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