In this week’s Legal Affairs Debate Club, David Boaz (Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute) is debating Judith Waxman, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, on whether pharmacists can legally and morally refuse to dispense prescription medications such as birth control or morning after pills. While the question is poorly phrased — it should be can pharmacy owners refuse to carry/dispense such drugs or can managers of a chain pharmacy refuse if they’re given discretion by the chain’s management — the reason I’m posting this here is because in his very first salvo, Boaz provided an anecdote from when he last spoke at Williams (when IIRC John Phillips ’02 arranged for him to come to campus):
So the answer to the question is, Yes, pharmacists should be free to dispense and sell the products they choose. If you don’t want to offer medical marijuana in states where it’s legal, you shouldn’t have to. Health food stores don’t sell things they consider junk food. Some bookstores don’t sell Bibles, or right-wing books, or pornography. I remember being at a conference at Williams College a few years ago, and a friend went to the local Williamstown pharmacy and asked for a bottle of the mega-vitamins he was used to taking. The pharmacist said he shouldn’t take such a large dosage and refused to sell him tablets of that size. My friend was annoyed. But the pharmacist had a right to do what he thought best, just as my friend had a right to go to a different pharmacy.
The rest of the debate is very interesting, both from liberty and policy perspectives.