Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A few 'morning after' thoughts

No surprise in the news that three Massachusetts women are taking Wal Mart to court for failing to stock the infamous "morning after pill." The only real eyebrow-raiser is that it has taken this long for them to get around to it.

Which leads to two or three thoughts.

1) States need to consider adopting "conscience clause" laws that allow companies and individuals to opt out of performing or offering services that they consider morally repugnant or violate their personal religious beliefs. From a practical standpoint, there is almost always someone willing to do what another refuses to do. Forcing individuals, or corporations (which are the legal equivalent of individuals) to go against their beliefs is just so wrong, so un-American.

2) Perhaps Sam Alito joins the U.S. Supreme Court not a moment too soon.

3) Perhaps Congress should take a hard look at what it takes to have standing in a federal civil case. How much relief or damages are actually needed when the three women in question could walk across the street to a CVS Pharmacy to get the morning after pills they wanted so badly?

A company should have the right to decide whether it is going to stock a certain drug or not, and there are a lot of factors, not just life issues, that could cause a firm to say, "no, not this one." The decision might not even make sense (nor should it have to). It could be a gut feeling on the part of a regional pharmacy manager who might hear that a certain drug has suspected side effects, and decide not to risk harm to patients.

Too often court actions like the one referenced here are little more than grandstanding attempts to advance an agenda, and perhaps dip into a corporation's deep pockets while doing so, than anything else. The end result of such shenanigans will not be greater availability of needed drugs, but lesser stocks at higher prices as some companies and some pharmacists decide to get out of the business. But those behind these raids likely will not comprehend the fact that true economic diversity means "conscience" is upheld and "competition" is welcome.


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