The effects of legally allowing religious bias in pharmacies

The effects of legally allowing religious bias in pharmacies

The effects of legally allowing religious bias in pharmacies
June 15
09:00 2017

By The Editorial Board

The Texas House of Representatives appears to be in need of reading the First Amendment again, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Rather than upholding the principles of our Founding Fathers, what Fort Worth Rep. Matt Krause has done is illogical, unjust and borderline unconstitutional.

The representatives passed House Bill 2950 on June 9, considering Krause’s recent amendment allowing “pharmacists to refuse filling prescriptions based on their religious beliefs” if Gov. Greg Abbott and others voted the bill into law. According to KRPC in Houston, the amendment claims to favor the “free exercise of religion” in lieu of rules that all license holders and registrants have to abide by.

Krause claims the amendment encourages religious freedom, but fails to address how it would strengthen medicinal power to people already paid to fill prescriptions. Since the Bible pushes for abstinence before marriage, the bill would give pharmacists a reason to never administer birth control pills ever again. Or fill prescriptions to gay people. Or even aid followers of non-Abrahamic religions, if they’re even aware of Islam and Christianity’s historic ties.

The bill is completely immoral because it potentially robs many Americans from insured medicine or treatments. Although patients could attend an alternative pharmacy if their initial choice refuses them, Texas still has an abundance of rural areas – many of which lack the wide access to health care that urban areas do.

The Dallas Morning News reported this week that “46 percent of children in [Texas] rural areas and small towns” are dependent on health care, while “41 percent” of dependents are in urban areas. Passing the bill would further cripple a state constantly battling to meet its increasing population growth, which isn’t ending anytime soon. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas “revised its job growth projection to 2.7 percent” after January saw notable employment increases in the state.

Logically, the amendment really doesn’t make sense because the state generally doesn’t look for religious-based refusals. “Only one Texas pharmacist has been reported to the [Texas State Board of Pharmacy] for refusing to fill a birth control prescription in the last 20 years,” according to Gay Dodson, the board executive director. Even if Krause’s proposal passes, pharmacists are less than likely to make such irrational decisions. So why sign the bill at that point?

Despite the state’s heavy emphasis on religion and spirituality, the proposal comes off as another political means to devalue certain constituents, rather than empowering them through the access to health care they already have. Instead of amending the bill in the name of religion, Krause should work on the nation’s relationship between church and state, which Thomas Jefferson conceptualized as separate during the third U.S. presidency. By that point, the nation was already devised from a tolerance of other religions, rather than sole Christianity like many Americans misconceive today.

Therefore, our Texas leaders need to fuel more time and effort into educating its population about domestic health care opportunities. If Congress actually goes through with President Donald Trump’s plan of cutting $800 billion from Medicaid, it will nationally damage health care – let alone access to such in the Lone Star State itself. And if the power of rural America in electing Trump tells us anything, it’s that those constituents hold a lot more weight to the nation than others realize. Denying potential voters of prescriptions, from areas which are already economically disadvantaged, would be an unfavorable epidemic on politicians and constituents alike.

We are all fortunate enough to reside in a nation established on the tolerance of spiritual belief. Taking that into account, it’s amazing how history can repeat itself over two hundred years later. That said, signing or supporting Krause’s proposal is incredibly un-American.

We can only pray it doesn’t go into law.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

A fan of pop culture, Preston loves everything from political think pieces to action blockbusters. He is also the Opinion Editor of the NT Daily and an Integrative Studies senior at UNT.

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