Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Refusal clauses

This raises a number of issues:

i) On the one hand, I don’t think we should give carte blanche to every religion that demands exceptional treatment. If, say, some Muslim-Americans think they have a religious duty to practice honor-killings or female circumcision, the state should not accommodate their perversions.

ii) Ethics is full of borderline cases. It can be difficult to come up with general criteria which draw the line in every conceivable case.

iii) I don’t agree with the Catholic position on contraception. That said, I think Catholic pharmacists ought to have the right to refuse to sell contraceptives or fill contraceptive prescriptions.

iv) This raises an intriguing issue for federalism, libertarianism, and Constitutionalism. If you think this is a states rights issue, then, in principle, this or that state has the authority to mandate that all pharmacists comply. Conversely, a libertarian might regard this as a matter of individual liberty. And, of course, one might also argue that is a Constitutional freedom of religion issue. These principles can tug in different directions. 

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