© 2012 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved
U.S. Constitution's First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
In a “discussion” with an atheist on Twitter on the question of whether a Christian pharmacist (in my discussion, the pharmacist shall be deemed a male for simplicity's sake) should be allowed to not fill a prescription for the “morning after pill” and the pharmacist maintain his job, I was confronted with the “Amish bus driver” redirect. The First Amendment (above) says via the "free exercise" clause, that the pharmacist should NOT be forced to break his religious beliefs and be forced to fill the prescription. The other person in the “discussion” believes otherwise: it’s all a matter of contractual obligation.
First, let's set the parameters that will help define this argument. Contracts are fine, but legal contracts do not require aiding in murder. That is what Christians believe abortion is: murder. Murder is illegal and immoral and most Christians do not support it in any way, shape or form. Remember: murder is different than the death penalty, which is a punishment upon conviction of a severe crime. Murder is also different than killing someone in self-defense or war. Murder is planning to kill another person for whatever reason and actually taking that person’s life. The “morning after pill” is just that. In this case, the person being murdered is an absolutely innocent being who hasn't even the possibility of having committed an offense to anyone yet; besides the "offense" of having been brought into existence by the actions of two other people. They are culpable; the baby pays the price. A contract between an employer and an employee and the expectations of the employer for the employee to fulfill the employer’s expectations do not trump right and wrong in the case of a human life. If contract equals "must obey", then what is the difference between a pharmacist's employment with a company that wants to provide that service and a contract killing, a la mafia hit man?
It’s not murder, the other side says. It’s a “can be child” that isn’t really a child yet because it doesn’t have “bioelectrical capabilities”. It’s not a "sentient being". It's not self-aware (to some on the left a child is not self-aware until after its third birthday: extra-utero!) thus it is "fair game". The child once growing and forming inside the mother's uterus is "expelled" by the mother's body after the "morning after pill". What once was life -- and if formed in a Petri dish could be used to implant into a woman via in vitro fertilization to make a confirmed, growing, wanted pregnancy: a baby -- is now dead and the price for two others' actions is paid by the most innocent being on earth.
Let’s set that “murder” truth and the First Amendment protection of that belief/practice aside for a while and let’s look at the redirect of the “Amish bus driver”. That question goes like this: If an Amish man applied for a job as a bus driver and was hired to drive the bus then he refused, on the grounds of religious beliefs, to drive the bus would he be able to refuse to do the job on those grounds and maintain the job?
Second, let’s make it clear: The “Amish bus driver” scenario portrays the Amish man as first applying for the job, which implies he is interested in doing the job. It also asserts that the company would be willing to hire a man (assuming the “Amish bus driver” had previously stood with his religious beliefs) with no prior driving experience, no regular driver’s license and no Class __ license to drive a bus. Ignoring the fact that the company would have to be run by complete morons, let’s go with the scenario. The Amish man applies for and gets the job. Then the scenario says that the “Amish bus driver scenario” asks if the "Amish bus driver" can be fired by the company because he can’t drive a bus without breaking his religious beliefs. The scenario asks if the First Amendment would protect the “Amish bus driver” and force the company to keep him on payroll (i.e., protect his “free exercise” regarding his religious beliefs) even though he’s not doing the job he was hired for?
Third, let us understand that anyone is able to go against their religious beliefs if they so choose. Neither the First Amendment – nor the Bible, to be frank – forces anyone to adhere to their alleged religious beliefs. I use the term “alleged” because anyone who CHOOSES to take a job that breaks with their religious beliefs is not necessarily wed to those beliefs; although in this scenario, the “Amish bus driver” is implied to have done so until that driver application moment. The Bible says that many backslide and they can come back to the Lord and, like the prodigal son returning home to his father, GOD will welcome us back. The First Amendment is mute on whether we’d be “welcomed back”, or whether we can CHOOSE to break with our alleged religious beliefs. An “Amish bus driver” choosing to break with his alleged religious beliefs and applying for such a job, is free (regardless of the First Amendment) to drive the bus if he so chooses (apparently in the scenario, without a license).
By the way, if the company was stupid enough to hire someone without a license, with no previous driving experience (of a motorized vehicle; horse and buggy driving does not count as such), with no Class __ license to drive a bus, why should they be able to fire the Amish man? They’re stupid enough to hire him, shouldn’t they face the consequences of their own stupidity? However, that’s a bit of an aside; let us focus on the real questions.
Fourth, the question is whether the “Amish bus driver” is protected by the First Amendment in order to force the company to keep him. A.K.A. do the Amish man’s religious beliefs trump his employer's need for the job to be done; the company’s need for someone to actually drive the bus the Amish man was hired to drive?
Let us look at the question in relation to the pharmacist, since the “Amish bus driver" was the redirect thrown out during that discussion. In the Amish man’s question, he may have deliberately taken the job to perpetrate a fraud: knowing that after applying (and being hired by idiots who apparently don’t care about qualifications) he would refuse to do the work and plead First Amendment. Apparently none of the bus driving would be done by the Amish man after pleading his First Amendment rights, therefore causing the company to hire someone else (hopefully, someone fully qualified with a Class __ license and previous experience), doubling the cost of the one position and saddling the company with a useless employee. That is not a First Amendment right, it is fraud. It is prosecutable and it is wrong.
The pharmacist, on the other hand, got into pharmacology, fulfilling all of the requirements of education, licensing (bonding?), studying the effects of the medicines he would be handing over the counter to his customers and learning what is good and bad about drugs and how drugs interact. In going into practice with a company (a drug store, grocery store, or whatever) the pharmacist fulfills his job requirements on a daily basis (sometimes for years) prior to the first time he is handed a legal prescription for the “morning after (A.K.A. murder) pill”. As a Christian, the pharmacist has a problem with this prescription. Not because it is a legal prescription, but because it tears at his soul. He believes the Bible is the Word of GOD and that it says that GOD creates the child and that the child is precious to GOD. He sees the act of filling that prescription as himself participating in the death/murder of that child. That is something he cannot do. He can’t help kill an innocent baby, so he refuses to fill the prescription.
The woman then has options: she can go elsewhere to get the prescription filled or she can come back when a different pharmacist is on duty and get her prescription filled that way. Her “rights” are not infringed upon; her prescription is filled, but at a different pharmacy or by a different person. It is NOT that a judgment is being passed by the pharmacist on the woman. It is that pharmacist’s heart is breaking at the thought of helping kill a child.
Assuming for the sake of the "Amish bus driver's" supposed discussion legitimacy and assumed employment contract (there's an awful lot of "assuming" going on in this "Amish bus driver" nonsense, isn't there?) the contract between employee and employer is now in question. Did the employee (pharmacist) break the contract of delivering on his job requirements? Let us frame the question in another analogy.
Fifth, Let us create a woman who applies for a job at a hotel in Nevada. She signs a contract to be the front desk clerk (or janitor, laundry person, breakfast cook) and realizes that the job contract is renewable every six months, and has a clause in it that states that she shall "perform other duties as assigned". She has signed this contract and is excited about being paid a good living wage for the job she has taken. Four months into her contract, during a very busy day, she is told by her boss (the company owner who also signed the contract) that she shall report to room 216 and do whatever the man there wants her to do. She realizes that the "whatever" is sex in any form and that she has signed a contract, in a state where prostitution is legal. Does that mean that -- because she was being told to do a legal act while in a contract -- she would have to go perform whatever sex act(s) the man in 216 wants? If not, the same is true of the pharmacist: legal prescription, legal pill; legal (and moral) refusal.
Invalid argument you say because the pharmacist's body and bodily safety are not being impacted by the contractual obligation to fill the prescription. Saying thus negates your argument: the woman can just quit, can she not? But, you say, the woman has a job and a contract and the employer cannot force her to perform sex acts. In Nevada sex for pay is legal, being a legal action and part of her contract via the undefined phrase "perform other duties as required" it could be considered part of the employment contract. Sex in any form (from pre-marital, homosexual, extra-marital, pedophilic sex to multiple partner, bestiality, or self-masturbatory sex) is good and right and even kids will participate in it because it's human nature. That's what we are told over and over again. Why can the employer not tell the woman to do something so natural, so right, so human and expect her to obey her employment contract?
Which begs the question: Should the pharmacist’s rights be trampled so that his customer should not have to go elsewhere or come back to the pharmacy at a different time? The woman may have been inconvenienced but that is all. She was not discriminated against based upon gender, age, race, creed, nationality, or religion. She was not discriminated against at all. In fact, the pharmacist probably prayed for her and his heart broke for her and her child. That is not discrimination, it is discernment and it is standing up for doing what the pharmacist believed was religiously right.
After all, if you do not think that murder is correct you don’t participate in a murder. If you believe that animal sacrifice is wrong you do not participate in animal sacrifice. If you believe the beliefs of Islam, Wicca, Judaism, Voodoo, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., are wrong, do you participate in their practices? The pharmacist chose to not participate in a religious practice that he disagreed with: the practice of those who believe – “believe” being the keyword – that abortion is okay. The First Amendment rights of the pharmacist are protected, thus his job as well, because it is his right to not participate in something his religious beliefs label as wrong. No one can force someone to participate in a religious wrong according to the First Amendment. When it's belief v belief, yours do not trump his.
Sixth, if the company the pharmacist works for is allowed to FORCE him to fill the legal prescription for the “morning after pill”, what can they do next? Can they force him to fill the sleeping pill prescription of someone who is suicidal? Or can they force him to fill the prescription for an emetic for someone who is bulimic? Why would there be a difference, unless you wish to discriminate based on age? A child in utero is less valuable than a twenty-four year old? (Atheists worldwide answered “Yes!”) The child's murder is the most important thing and the pharmacist's rights and conscience carry no weight: the child must be killed.
Seventh, although the "Amish bus driver" is thrown under the bus in the argument quite often by the liberals, the pharmacist’s situation differs so drastically from the “Amish bus driver” scenario that it is ridiculous to even associate the two. Let us count the differences:
1) The pharmacist is fully qualified; the “Amish bus driver” is not
2) The pharmacist’s employer hired him as fully qualified; the bus company hired someone totally unqualified.
3) The majority of the pharmacist’s job is being done on a daily basis; the “Amish bus driver” refused to even start doing his job (probably a good idea since he has no experience driving anything but a horse and buggy).
4) The pharmacist’s boss has certain expectations of their employee, including the fulfilling of prescriptions; the bus driver’s employers apparently have very few expectations since they hired someone totally unqualified.
5) The pharmacist’s experience tells him that this pill will lead to the death of a child; the “Amish bus driver’s” inexperience leads him to blackmail the company who was stupid enough to hire him, crying "First Amendment" to keep his job.
6) The pharmacist’s religious beliefs tell him to not fill the prescription that will lead to the death of a child; the “Amish bus driver’s” inexperience leads him into taking over the entire company because his "First Amendment rights" were protected and because he was at least smarter than those who hired his inexperienced backside in the first place.
7) The pharmacist did no injury, did not discriminate, did not harm the woman’s First Amendment rights, just inconvenienced her; the “Amish bus driver” did an illegal act to stupid people and wound up owning the company and vacationing in Brazil during Mardi Gras for the next ten years before selling the company back for a huge profit to those who hired him in the first place.
8) The pharmacist, if fired, had his First Amendment rights trampled on because his religious beliefs -- and his practice of them -- were being over ruled and dismissed by the woman and his employer; the “Amish bus driver” had a change of heart, returned to his beliefs and to his simple life and used his bus company money to buy six horses and buggies and start an Amish Taxi Company, LLC, and lived in simple comfort the rest of his life (with some very explicit memories of Brazil).
Acknowledged: A little silly, but you get the point.
Eighth, this is where the discussion will inevitably turn to “What about single men who get Viagra so that they can have sex outside of marriage? Isn't it hypocrisy for the pharmacist to fill that prescription when it's against his beliefs for people to have extramarital sex? Should he do that?” To which I respond: Does the pharmacist get to ask if the man is married? No. That is not allowed. In order to get to that information, the pharmacist would have to ask some mighty personal questions: questions that are totally illegal. Therefore, the pharmacist has no idea if the man is married, unless he knows him on a personal level. Also taken into account is the fact that in having extramarital sex, while wrong, it is not murder in the pharmacist's eyes. It is the murder that prevents the pharmacist from filling the "morning after pill" prescription, not the immoral act that conceived the child.
When the pharmacist reads the prescription for the “morning after pill” the pharmacist’s education tells the pharmacist (without questioning the woman) that the pill’s exclusive job, reason to be prescribed and to exist, is to kill a child. That is not an invasion of privacy, for none is needed when the pharmacist’s education tells the pharmacist what is going to happen. No questioning happens. No intrusion of any sort is done by the pharmacist. All that is needed is for the prescription to be read and understood. The “morning after pill” does certain things and killing the child is the main thing. That’s where the religious beliefs of the pharmacist kick in.
Ninth, this is America. Anyone may CHOOSE to break with their beliefs, thus the “Amish bus driver” question is a redirect: someone yelling, “Squirrel!” Remember: that “Amish bus driver” scenario can be turned around. Let us consider an atheist who applies for a job at a Catholic Church. He is hired and – as part of the job – is required to participate in church services, prayers, baptisms, communions, etc. If he were hired, and refused to do those particular parts of the job that required him to participate in the “religious portion” of the job, should he be fired? After all, if it’s fair for the “Amish bus driver” to be fired, it’s fair for the atheist too, yes?
Tenth, since the question is whether a pharmacist not filling a prescription for the “morning after pill” is something that would mean the pharmacist should lose his job let us consider more possibilities. Here are several situations in which a pharmacist does not fill a prescription. For which of these should the pharmacist be punished via losing his job, or via job loss and legal prosecution?
1) The pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription that he knows is on a particular doctor’s prescription pad, but it is not the doctor’s writing. Since it is a prescription, should the doctor be forced to fill that prescription?
2) A pregnant woman goes to the pharmacist in question with a prescription that is from a doctor, written properly, legally to fill, but will harm a baby the woman wishes to keep. Should the pharmacist be forced to fill the legal prescription?
3) The pharmacist is handed a prescription for medical marijuana, which the pharmacist believes there is no medical reason to prescribe marijuana and believes that the marijuana will do more harm than good, possibly leading to harder illicit drugs? Should the pharmacist be forced to fill the legal prescription? See: Is Pot Good for Lungs..."
4) The pharmacist receives a legal prescription for Xanax from the same patient who came in twice earlier in the week with legal prescriptions for Xanax from two other doctors, all three with refills. Should the pharmacist be forced to fill the prescription?
5) The pharmacist receives a legal prescription from a patient who shows signs of serious depression and the prescription is something that could be used to commit suicide. The pharmacist is very concerned that the patient will use the prescription to kill himself. Should the pharmacist be forced to fill the legal prescription?
In which of those five scenarios should the pharmacist lose his job? If only one is a job-loss refusal, then why not the other four? He still refuses “to do his job”, so why not fire him for all five – or in the case of the “morning after pill”, all six – instances? If you say that only the “morning after pill” instance and the medical marijuana are instances worthy of firing, why? Why are the others not worthy of firing since in all instances the doctor is NOT “doing his job”?
Finally, considering the other possibilities helps bring the argument into focus. The pharmacist's right to not violate his religious beliefs are not trumped by a contract. If contract equals "all powerful ruler of conscience and decider for other people of right and wrong", then where does that authority end? What is the breaking point where the contract becomes a secondary consideration? When does the right guaranteed in the First Amendment to "the free exercise thereof" stand between a contract employee and an employer and start protecting the employee? If it does not start with the individual's heart and conscience and their stand against obeying the order, then it does not exist at all. The pharmacist would have to live with the guilt that accompanies the contractual agreement that would trump his "free exercise thereof". Where does the pharmacist's right to his own conscience end? Is it at his employer's orders? If it never exists except on the basis of gender (the female hotel employee), then who is discriminating (mirror, mirror)? If, on the other hand, the right to the "free exercise thereof" is protected, guaranteed and enforced for all, across the board, who will be harmed? The customer can get the prescription filled elsewhere or by someone else and her religious beliefs do not trump his.
The "Amish bus driver" tail chaser is so irrelevant to this discussion that it requires an immediate dismissal of its usefulness to this issue. Anyone who is lame enough to throw that into the mix is just that: lame. Yelling "Squirrel!" is not a valid argument.
© 2012 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved