When Anti-Choicers Speak

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a story about a pharmacist who has filed a federal lawsuit against Target after they fired him for refusing to dispense emergency contraception.

I’ve heard of the case before, and yup, it’s certainly going to be interesting when a ruling is made, and either way I’m sure that it’s going to be appealed. Both sides will probably try to take it to the Supreme Court (though I can tell you right now that such a move would not end well). This is precisely why we need a national law mandating that pharmacists — who are actually preforming a public service — do their damn jobs. And a Democratic president to actually sign the thing.

But what caught my eye here isn’t the story itself . . . it’s the comments made by the anti-choicers defending their position not only that pharmacists have the right to stand in the way of patient health, but also that all birth control is akin to abortion. Really, it’s fascinating:

Richardson said the case isn’t just about birth control: it could have far-reaching effects on an employer’s rights to enforce policies for workers, he said. If Bundy is successful, he warned, it could also set a dangerous federal precedent for allowing pharmacists to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship. Richardson does not believe pharmacists should block a woman’s access to contraception and said the morning-after pill is a contraceptive.

“It does not cause an abortion,” said Richardson. If a pharmacist doesn’t want to give out the pill, Richardson said he or she should give the prescription to another pharmacist. “Pharmacists should not stand in the way of a woman having access to medications that are prescribed,” he said. The argument could be expanded to conventional birth control pills or any kind of treatment, he warned.

That’s an argument that has split even staunch anti-abortion camps.

Both Flint Right to Life and Right to Life Lifespan oppose the morning-after pill and want the state constitution amended to declare that life begins at conception.

The Michigan and national Right to Life organizations remain neutral on the topic.

[Right to Life Lifespan director] Zabik said the federal case could fan the flames of that divide, sparking renewed discussion of conventional birth control pills by re-igniting the controversy over when life truly begins. Both types of pill “make the womb a hostile environment,” said Zabik. “I hope this case does change and totally open the dialogue on the birth control pill because one is nothing more than a double dose of the other,” said Zabik. “It’s all very political. Some of the other groups don’t want to have to deal with it because they know many, many women consider themselves pro-life who are using birth control pills. We’re trying to stay true to the message of life.”

Admittedly, those of us paying attention know that anti-choicers are not just anti-abortion, they’re also anti-birth control. Why? Because sex is for procreation purposes only, women are for breeding, and any act of female sexual pleasure must be punished through forced pregnancy. (No, that’s not a joke). But usually they won’t say that to anyone other than their own supporters. To declare it proudly to a newspaper, that using birth control is “anti-life” and directly comparable to abortion? Damn, lady, I have to give you some credit there. That takes a special kind of fervent delusion. Also, could you please say it more often? To larger newspapers? And on television? That the “pro-life” agenda is actually, truly about making sure that women have no control over their uteruses whatsoever? I’ll even help you do the legwork, book you some interviews. Call me.

But amazingly enough, the most stupid comment in this article was not from Zabik. Her comments, though certainly stupid, are more politically and ideologically stupid than anything else. But the comments up ahead, from the director of another “pro-life” organization, well . . . they’re just plain old stupid.

Flint Right to Life Director Judy Climer agreed, saying Target was trying to force Bundy into participating in an abortion by ordering him to hand out morning-after pills.

“He has the right to object to that,” Climer said. “The morning-after pill is clearly an abortion pill. If it’s not an abortion pill, why do you take it the morning after?”


This strikes me to be on the same intellectual wavelength as “what do you mean BET isn’t racist towards white people? It’s called BLACK Entertainment Television!” In other words, it’s the kind of comment based in the most shallow depths of human thought, that any reasonable person — if they had sat down to think for at least 2 seconds before the words left their mouth, or did the intelligent thing and quietly asked another person about the issue before publicly embarrassing themselves — would realize is truly moronic. But Climer not only said this, she said it to a newspaper when she knew she was going to be quoted. And then the newspaper actually printed it! (Without, you won’t be surprised to hear, ever stating the fact from an objective standpoint that EC is not an abortive medication).

Ms. Climer, I’m going to try to explain this to you as simply as possible, so could you please do your best to concentrate? I know, I know, but try for me. Thanks.

Now, I know that you’ve grown up and lived your whole life under a world view that sex is for men to enjoy and women to endure. When it comes to sex, you think that men are the ones who control all of the action, that penises have some kind of innate control over vaginas. But, Ms. Climer — and this is where it gets difficult — when the magical powerful penis ejaculates inside a vagina (I’m sorry, a woman’s “down there”), it doesn’t actually result immediately in pregnancy. No, really. You see, in order for a woman to get pregnant, she has to be ovulating. And usually, despite the penis’ incredible power, a man doesn’t ejaculate right at the same exact moment that a woman is ovulating. In other words, semen has a way of hanging out for a while. It’s not actually a man’s ejaculation that does the legwork. The sperm can scurry around all it likes, but it’s not going to get anywhere if the egg doesn’t come out to play. EC works by preventing ovulation.

The reason that this so confusing is because when it comes to reproduction — and therefore sex — women’s bodies aren’t “supposed” to take the initiative. But despite all of that cute and highly useful patriarchal indoctrination, it’s just not so. The woman’s body is the one that directly initiates pregnancy. Not the man’s. And this can and usually does take up to a couple of days.

The sad thing is that while I’d like to believe that people would look at Climer’s statement and think to themselves “that’s the most stupid argument I’ve ever heard,” a lot of them are probably more likely to think “hey, good point!” That’s what you get from an underfunded education system that focuses obsessively on how to fake out multiple choice questions instead of how to think critically. It’s also what you get when, for some reason, Fox News is allowed to pass for actual journalism. Otherwise, we’d be facing outrage over the fact that a newspaper would print a debate about medical facts without actually bothering to publish the medical facts. We’d face mass understanding of the fact that, if your job requires you to do something that you are morally opposed to, you probably ought to pick a different profession (this is the reason why despite childhood fantasies, I never became either a lawyer or a politician). It would be common knowledge that every single word uttered at a Republican debate is absolutely ludicrous (in addition to at least half of the words at a Democratic debate).

But unfortunately, this is indeed the world we’re working with. Read it and weep.

0 thoughts on “When Anti-Choicers Speak

  1. BettyBoondoggle

    ” “The morning-after pill is clearly an abortion pill. If it’s not an abortion pill, why do you take it the morning after?””

    Oy. I would love to dismiss this as simple stupidity, but that would be stupid. Its seems more and more likely that what we are up against are some hardcore bigots who place little value on honesty, integrity or truth. And who place no value on the lives and wellbeing of women.

    I’d bet that this woman knows that the morning-after pill is not an “abortion pill”, but being honest doesn’t help her cause.

  2. Mortality

    The more I hear about crazy “pro-lifers” from USA the happier I get with the ones in Sweden who are actually pro-life. They want proper sex-ed, easy access to contraceptives etc. All those things that lower pregnancy rates^^

  3. Cara Post author

    REALLY? How incredibly weird.

    I mean, I’d still disagree with them strongly, but it sounds like they would be about 10 million times more friendly and tolerable.

  4. rich

    I’d be interested to hear from an attorney’s perspective if this pharmacist has a chance with this lawsuit. He claims Target knew of his Christian beliefs, and by extension, that he would deny morning after pills and such; I cannot conceive of a pharmacy hiring a person who they knew in advance would not dispense certain meds due to his/her religious beliefs. That puts the customers, and therefore Target, at great risk, not to mention violating a doctor’s right to care for their patient.

  5. SakuraPassion

    More like, “women who want emergency contraception are dirty sluts.”

    Yeah, I believe this whole thing comes down to being anti-sex for pleasure. Now if anti-choicers would admit this. (they won’t though)

  6. akeeyu

    Wait, what is this guy’s basis for claiming that Target knew he was a Christian and therefore would not dispense Plan B?

    Are we expected to believe that Target regularly asks potential applicants about their religious practices while conducting interviews? I’ve never seen one of their applications, but come on! They’d be sued eight ways from Sunday!

    Even if he was wearing a cross or other religious insignia when he was hired, it’s kind of a stretch to claim that all Christians oppose Plan B, or even birth control. Clearly, not so much.

    Besides, if they refused to hire him based on his religion, well, that’s a whole other lawsuit.

    I think that Target should be able to assume that a job applicant is prepared to perform the essential functions of the job that they’re applying for. Since an essential job function of pharmacists is dispensing drugs, well, fucking duh.

  7. Elaine Vigneault

    You said:
    “anti-choicers are not just anti-abortion, they’re also anti-birth control. Why? Because sex is for procreation purposes only, women are for breeding, and any act of female sexual pleasure must be punished through forced pregnancy.”

    I agree that this is the agenda of the anti-choicers.

    But I think the average person in that camp simply doesn’t know how birth control works. They really don’t understand it and they think it IS abortion.

    Remember, they’re anti-sex ed, too. They don’t get it. They don’t understand. They are uneducated.

  8. brandann

    *groan* of course this jerk off is from michigan! the hits just keep coming i swear…

    that guy is full of crap. as someone currently in the job market, and taking a bunch of free classes on how to look for one (thanks military!) i can tell you that it is completely illegal for target to ever consider his religious back ground in the job application process…along w/ giving your ssn b/f actually being hired (seriously! look it up). that being said, this guy went into this job full well knowing what he would be expected to do…so he could only have taken it hoping to further his personal anti-choice, anti- sex, anti-birth control, anti-woman horse shit agenda. i really believe that is what they are doing next, purposely putting themselves in positions to raise a fuss and get attention…like my five year old when she doesn’t get to have mac and cheese for dinner, except my Kid knows when to calm down and be considerate of others.

  9. Paul W.

    Speaking of the Huck:

    “In Warren, Michigan on Monday, Huckabee declared his personal crusade to amend the Constitution by copying and pasting from the Bible:

    ‘I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And thats what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.’

  10. Cara Post author

    But I think the average person in that camp simply doesn’t know how birth control works. They really don’t understand it and they think it IS abortion.

    Remember, they’re anti-sex ed, too. They don’t get it. They don’t understand. They are uneducated.

    First of all, I’m not so sure of how big this camp is. I strongly believe that most people who consider themselves “pro-life” are not anti-birth control. They may be anti-sex ed, or anti-conveniently dispensed birth control for ideological reasons, but I don’t think that your average person who votes “pro-life” gets what the antis are really about and do not think that birth control is abortion.

    But for those who actually push this agenda and argue this line of thinking? I think that most of them do know better. They may not understand the technicalities of how hormonal birth control works — I’d argue that most people don’t — but I think that they know perfectly well that it’s not the same as abortion. The one wingnut in the article says that birth control “makes the womb a hostile environment.” That’s what this is about — thinking a uterus should always be a womb. If you actually listen to them long enough and read their internal press releases and snoop through their websites, you’ll find that this is actually about combating the idea that a woman has the right to temporary (or permanent) infertility. They say that it contradicts the message of life, and by having sex without being open to pregnancy, people are more inclined to have abortions. They genuinely think not that birth control is an abortion but that it causes abortions. And that goes for condoms, too. Clearly, even these critically-deficient people understand that using a condom is in no way actually an abortion.

  11. Jenee

    In the case of the pharmacist, at least, I can’t imagine that he doesn’t know better. You’re average Joe can’t just walk into a Target and apply for a pharmacist position. You have to go to at least 3 years of additional school after getting an undergrad degree in order to become a pharmacist. Within that education, I’d have to imagine that a great deal of information regarding the human body and the functioning of different substances within the human body would be covered.

    I’m not saying anything about the people who are being quoted backing him up, but the pharmacist sure as hell knows better than to buy into this nonsense.

  12. Andrew

    Jenee… I agree very strongly with your comment. Pharmacists don’t go to school to learn how to count to 20. They go to learn about the medications. If pharmacists were forced to fill every prescription their patient’s health would be seriously affected by money… in other words, doctors would prescribe whatever drugs would get them more money… the drug companies would make sure of it. Our health care system doesn’t need this.

  13. Cara Post author

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Andrew, but are you suggesting that pharmacists should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions at whim?

  14. Andrew

    No. First of all, why would a pharmacist do that? Perhaps you are thinking of a racist blindly rejecting medication to a certain race. I don’t know, but a pharmacist has to report what prescriptions he is filling, so it really wouldn’t be that hard to prevent this from happening. (If a patient complains you check the records and see that he usually gives this drug out and had no reason to refuse this patient. That would not be the case in this situation, where a pharmacist never gives out a certain drug, regardless of race).

    A pharmacist should always reject a prescription when they believe the medication will do harm. RU-486 is currently blamed for the death of several women. A pharmacist is more likely to know this than a doctor, so they should have a duty, no, a moral obligation to use this knowledge and make decisions on the patient as well.

    Like it or not, pharmacists participate in the work that a doctor does, and the more competent people that are working for a patient’s health, the better off the patient is going to be. This law (like the one attempted in my home state of Washington) will remove a competent mind, and has potentially terrible consequences on the health care system of this country.

    Here is another angle… My friend is a doctor (and we’ve talked about this issue before) and he views the pharmacist as a safety net of sorts. He and other doctors rely on the pharmacist to double check his perscriptions to make sure that they are safe… so the patient is helped and he avoids malpractice lawsuits.

  15. Cara Post author

    Yes, pharmacists do have a job to double check prescriptions and keep patients safe. That’s not nearly the same as refusing a prescription that a doctor has ordered and wants filled. Pharmacists do not have authority over doctor’s orders. And a pharmacist is more likely to know about drug risks than doctors? Um, no.

    And if pharmacists were allowed to reject every medication that has caused or has been accused of causing death, that would allow them to reject a hell of a lot of stuff, like I’ve said, at whim. Birth control pills, anti-depressants, painkillers, heart medication and a whole host of other drugs that are more likely to save your life than end it, and aspirin. In fact, aspirin has killed a shitload more people than RU486 has ever been accused of causing (the number I found was 12, and at least 5 of those were due to incorrect use).

    Also, the pharmacist and all of his supporters have made it very clear that he does not want the right to refuse to dispense a drug that could cause abortion because he disagrees with it morally, not because he is concerned with women’s health. If you think that I’m going to believe your motivations are any different, you’re sorely mistaken.

  16. BettyBoondoggle

    “A pharmacist should always reject a prescription when they believe the medication will do harm. RU-486 is currently blamed for the death of several women. A pharmacist is more likely to know this than a doctor, so they should have a duty, no, a moral obligation to use this knowledge and make decisions on the patient as well.”

    What a wonderful world it would be if this is why they refuse to fill such a perscription. How many more meds are the causes of death for many more than “a few” people, yet those are not among those who face refusal.

    They don’t refuse these drugs because they worry about women’s health. They refuse them because they are misogynistic anti-choicers.

    (And, in case anyone is confused by my labeling them “misogynistic”, notice that Ed drugs – Cialis, etc – are not on the refusal list.)

    No pharmacist should have veto power. They should have contact with the doctors so that they – together – can discuss the proper course of action.

  17. Andrew

    Ok… well, regarding aspirin… “Older age, history of peptic ulcer disease, higher NSAID dose, and concurrent use of corticosteroids and anticoagulants increase the risk for serious gastrointestinal side effects [5]. Almost all deaths from NSAID-related gastrointestinal side effects occur in elderly persons [2]; elderly women seem particularly susceptible [10, 12, 13].” (http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/127/6/429)

    So, if an elderly woman comes in for her prescription and the pharmacist knows that she is taking drugs that are going to increase the risk of her death and he believes that taking aspirin will greatly enhance the risk of death, I believe he should most definately refuse the prescription. He should call the doctor and tell him why he is refusing the prescription and suggest something else.

    RU-486 is killing healthy women… I don’t care if 5 deaths were misuse. Any pro-woman stance would want these 12 young healthy women to be alive today.

    “Also, the pharmacist and all of his supporters have made it very clear that he does not want the right to refuse to dispense a drug that could cause abortion because he disagrees with it morally, not because he is concerned with women’s health.”

    Actually, I’m sure women’s health is a huge concern to him. You see, when a woman walks into his pharmacy to request these “drugs,” they are perfectly healthy women. Their bodies are functioning exactly as they should. The pill (and other drugs this pharmacist does not want to give out) mess that up… they cause the woman’s body to not function properly. They treat a healthy female experience, pregnancy, like a disease. That is not pro-woman, nor is it pro-health.

    I’m shocked that a ‘feminist’ like yourself would advocate such a system.

  18. Cara Post author

    If I was pregnant, Andrew, it would feel like a disease, and I certainly would not feel as though my body was working “properly.” You have a pretty fucking twisted view of what is pro-woman. Fuck off. You’re a condescending paternalistic ass. Of course I wish those women were alive. But if we outlawed what killed them, many, many more dead women would have taken their places. But you are not concerned for their lives; you’re concerned for the poor innocent itty bitty babies that they and women like them “kill.”

    Oh, p.s. you’re banned.

  19. BettyBoondoggle

    Figures, Andrew is just a anti-choice concerned troll. Should have guessed that it was too good to be true someone would actually give a crap about women’s health instead of using it as a platform to finger wage anti-choice crib notes.

  20. lauredhel

    12 deaths associated with RU486, ever – and over half a million associated with pregnancy, every single year.

    If you’re going to go with a pseudo-amoral and faux-scientific risk analysis, you gotta take into account benefits as well.

  21. jovan byars

    The sad part is that 47 American states and Distric of Columbia have refusal clauses that allows pharmacists to deny women EC based on their Christofascist views. What this means is that in those 47 states, a pharmacist must fill Viagra, but can reject EC at whim. This is clearly blatant discrimination against women. Thank God that California and Illinois are two of the three states that actually put women’s health ahead of anti-choice zealotry. I’m trying to find the third.

    I agree with Officer Boondoggle, Andrew is an anti-choice nutjob who probably participated in the March for Life on Tuesday. He had no facts, just the same old lies coming from the National Right to Life Committee and their ilk.


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