June 08, 2005

No 'Choice' For Pro-Lifers?

The pharmacist issue is getting more news coverage and again it seems that 'choice' only applies when you make a choice FOR abortion. Those making a personal choice against it are marginalized. This has been an issue before when the Congress was fighting over whether health care providers could decline to provide abortions (especially contentious since many Catholic health groups were operating in areas far from other providers but had strong moral objections to abortifacients).

The operative here is choice. If the rule on abortion is that it's a choice, then that has to swing both ways. Some people of libertarian bent have tried to construct justifications that suggest something to the effect of "pharmacists enjoy a monopoly on dispensing drugs, therefore they have to provide a public service" and lose their right to personal morality in their job.

That's just silly, though.

First of all, if they don't have a "monopoly" in the economic sense; they compete against each other all the time. Even grocery stores have pharmacies now. There's quite a bit of competition in the pharmacist field; just because only pharmacists can do pharmacy doesn't mean there's a "monopoly."

Second, it's a completely socialist method of looking at the world. Businesses exist to create a profit for their owners and shareholders, employees work to generate wealth for themselves, consumers purchase goods to use themselves. Business do not exist to provide employees with jobs, employees do not work to provide consumers with goods, and consumers do not purchase goods to keep companies in business. Everyone in the equation is primarily in it for his own ends, and that's fine. To force people to work for the good of others is socialist, just like making a business exist for the public good is socialist. Pharmacists exist for their own reasons - to feed their families, to buy a home, to otherwise generate wealth to spend. They don't owe the public a service; if a pharmacy decides to limit the goods it provides then they have to accept the consequences.

Third, if we accept their premise, then the government would be rewarded for extending its power by a further extension of its power. In other words, the government over-regulates the pharmacy field, and gets rewarded by getting to say what drugs and services pharmacists have to provide. With this standard, the government could control any profession simply by requiring a license to do it. Private school teachers, who don't need licenses in all states, could be forced to teach certain (morally objectionable) classes in their PRIVATE schools because the government decided to license their profession. The government was rewarded for illegitimately controlling a profession by getting further control over it. Does that make a lot of sense for a libertarian? Does it make sense for anybody?

Overall, the point is choice. As long as a person's life before birth is subject to choice, then that has to be the rule. If the pro-abortion people want to throw the choice idea out the window (along with their moderate pro-choice allies), then they can no longer claim any sort of alleged libertarian superiority over the pro-life people. Either people are free to choose or not choose abortion, or the choice rhetoric is nothing more than a hypocritical fig leaf over the unimpeded destruction of millions.

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