Keeping the Faith Extends to Prescription Drugs

Lynne Glasner

A new influx of faith-based pharmacies demonstrates that the "pro-life" groups want to take us back to the dark days when contraception was prohibited.

In case you haven’t noticed: there’s a new influx of faith-based pharmacies.

out that the "pro-life" groups have a broad agenda. It’s not just that
they are against abortion on moral grounds, they want to take us back
to the dark days when contraception was prohibited.

Recent news tells us that now there are quite a multitude of pharmacies that can refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control:

Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is among at least seven pharmacies across the nation that are refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind, even if a person has a prescription.

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in Virginia are allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for any reason
whatsoever. So a small pharmacy in a Virginia suburb won’t carry
contraceptives of any type, on moral grounds. This is their policy, in
keeping with their faith. However, a call to the pharmacy determined
that they do fill prescriptions for Viagra because it’s for "a medical

So for the faith-based, erectile dysfunction is a
"medical condition" but pregnancy is not. This interpretation of
"medical" is also in line with health insurance companies. Some
insurance companies cover Viagra but do not cover oral contraception,
using the same reasoning even though Viagra is a much more expensive
drug and thus costs them more.

Impotence is no more a
disease than pregnancy. The drug industry promotes Viagra and other
similar drugs as a lifestyle "choice." Recall some of those ads that
tout the "choice" of timing for sexual activity and compare it to the
anti-choice lobby that denies women a choice should that first "choice"
result in pregnancy. At the same time, the insurance companies and the
heath insurance industry claim ED drugs as the answer to correct a
"medical condition." Technically, contraception prevents a medical
condition, whether that condition is pregnancy or some other medical
problem. If a woman is willing to fight her insurance company and prove
that she needs oral contraception to prevent something other than
pregnancy, she has a good chance of winning.

But Viagra
doesn’t prevent anything except deflation of the male ego and
genitalia. If medications that prevent medical conditions are not to be
covered by health insurance, then logically they can’t also cover any
kind of preventive care, from flu shots to vaccines to check-ups to
mammograms. But most health insurance plans cover preventive care
because they know it’s sound policy and cheaper in the long run. Since
when does health insurance cover cosmetic surgery, which might also
boost the ego?

Slowly, the creeping faith-based initiatives
have worked their way into both public policies and private practice.
From foreign aid to medical dispensaries, the right-wing has forged a
back-door for enforcing a ban on both abortion and contraception. The
foreign aid policies may be changed with a new administration. What a
private pharmacy does or doesn’t do is (and should be) outside of
legislative reach.

That said, however, it seems like fair
game to push for a legislative initiative mandating that any pharmacy
that accepts Medicaid or Medicare prescription plans for reimbursement
must accept all bona fide prescriptions without discrimination as to
the purpose of the drug. If the Bush Administration can cut off funding
because an organization discusses abortion even if it doesn’t offer
abortion services, why shouldn’t pharmacies be held to the same

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