A pharmacist in New South Wales, Trevor Dal Broi, has decided that oh noes, contraception is against god’s will, so he won’t be selling it in his shop. [link]
He’s in a small town, Griffith, and there are about five other pharmacies in town, so no one is going to be unable to buy contraceptives at all. But the next pharmacy is over a kilometer away as the crow flies, and as far as I can tell (my google-map skills are limited), about 1.5km away as the wolf runs. [link] So some people are going to suffer some inconvenience.
But more than that, I’m concerned by this person imposing his peculiar morality on the community he is supposed to serve. Who on earth does he think he is, that instead of dispensing the medicine that people need, he hands out the women-hating morality of the Catholic church instead?
The problem is that as a pharmacist, he takes the government’s coin and gets government protection. Pharmacies in Australia are partially government funded, via pricing and subsidy rules for medicines. That’s the government coin. And there are strict rules about where new pharmacies may be located, providing a massive trade protection to existing pharmacies. In return, they are supposed to provide pharmaceutical services for the area in which they are located (PDF – go to p. 22).
25.1. The objectives of the Location Rules are to ensure:
a. all Australians have access to PBS* medicines;
b. a commercially viable and sustainable network of community pharmacies
dispensing PBS medicines;
c. improved efficiency through increased competition between pharmacies;
d. improved flexibility to respond to the community need for pharmacy
e. increased local access to community pharmacies for persons in rural and
remote regions of Australia; and
f. continued development of an effective, efficient and well-distributed
community pharmacy network in Australia.
* Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
He is exploiting the resources that our government gives him in order to push his own religious views. I dislike his religious views, intensely, but frankly, if he wants to spend his Sundays on his knees before some sky-fairy, well, that’s his business. But his job is a public one, part publicly funded and publicly protected. It’s as if a police officer decided to hand out tracts with speeding tickets, or an ATO officer remitted taxes in return for prayers.
It’s not possible to tell whether or not Trevor Dal Broi is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, but there’s a good chance that he is; the Society represents about 80% of all Australian pharmacists. If he is, he might care to take a look as his Society’s code of conduct. He supposed to “respect the clients’ right to choose whether or not they participate in any treatment” and “respect the skills and expertise of other health professionals and work cooperatively with them to optimise the health outcomes of their mutual clients.” So he’s tromping all over the client’s right to choose, and getting in the middle of the relationship between doctor and patient. He is also not supposed to work in an environment where professional independence, judgment or integrity is impaired. A church is not a workplace, but it does seem that he is allowing his church, and his religious beliefs, to impair his professional independence, judgment and integrity as a pharmacist.