Washington was one of seven states that allowed the sale of the “Plan B” antipregnancy drug before the FDA legalized it nationwide. In that state the question has arisen: should pharmacists who morally object to Plan B be required to sell it anyway?
What was notable about the debate was how the libertarian way of thinking was entirely absent from it. In that view, a person or company in the business of selling – that is, as an owner – could decide not to sell certain merchandise for whatever reason or for no reason, because commerce should be voluntary. The pharmacists’ claim, however, was not stated that way. It was stated that a pharmacist, as a pharmacist, should have the right not to dispense drugs if he did not approve of the customer’s using them.
That most pharmacists work for drugstore chains was not mentioned. It was highly unlikely that a chain would allow employees to refuse to sell company inventory because of some beliefs they had. Reall this whole issue was about a handful of pharmacist-owners, probably most of them in small towns. But the claim was not made that way.
The loud and insistent reply from urban progressives was that the moralistic pharmacist was denying the woman’s access to the drug, and that it was none of his business to police her that way. And so, after initially ruling for the pharmacists, the state pharmacy board, under pressure from the state’s (female) governor, ruled the other way. In Washington, pharmacists are required to sell Plan B to a legally qualified buyer if they have it in stock.
I can’t see how that rule will affect me in the slightest. I’m a city guy, and probably if I were a pharmacist I would have the same sales policy as Walgreens. But I would also resent the state’s usurpation of my decision about it, and the corresponding loss of liberty.