Imagine a woman who has recently given birth walks into your pharmacy. She's in danger of bleeding out right in front of you if you don't agree to hand over their legally prescribed pills to stop the bleeding. But instead of filling her prescription, you decide to call the nurse practitioner who prescribed them and give her a hard time.
Would you be comfortable ignoring her in favor of being a jerk? She just gave birth for crying out loud? What, no, you wouldn't?
Now what if that woman hadn't just given birth? Oh, she's still bleeding from the uterus. But it's because she just came out of the abortion clinic, where she's had a legal abortion and has an equally legal prescription for pills to help stop the flow of blood, a blood flow that would technically kill her if she doesn't eventually get her medicine. Now is it OK to make her stand there and be a jerk?
Because a pharmacist in Idaho had no idea which woman was coming into her pharmacy to pick up methergine, a legally prescribed drug the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health says is most often used "to prevent or treat bleeding from the uterus that can happen after childbirth or an abortion." All she knew was the woman was a patient of Planned Parenthood, a place that provides women with abortions, yup, but also with prenatal and postpartum care.
So what did she do? Oh, you know what's coming. She demanded to know if the woman had had an abortion, and when the nurse followed federal laws protecting the woman's medical history, she refused to fill the prescription. Remember, this is a drug to treat bleeding, not one that causes an abortion. She got lucky; she didn't die. But her actions proved she didn't really care.
The case is now on its way to court, and I'm about 90 percent sure the knee-jerk reaction of some of the pro-life crowd will be a war whoop and some fist pumps. But wait a minute. This isn't merely a problem for those of us who are pro-choice and find it appalling thats he could have allowed a woman who had a legal abortion to die because she didn't agree with her.
She could just as easily have been treating a woman who just gave birth like she was a stain on humanity becauses she thought she had had an abortion. Did you read that? She thought. She assumed. And you know what happens when you "assume" something, don't you? You let a poor woman die.
I'm not being hysterical. In the United States, one in five women result in postpartum hemorrhaging, and although it's usually treatable, postpartum hemorrhage is the second leading single cause of maternal mortality in developed countries.
This story isn't about an American's right to feel uncomfortable with abortion. It's about a patient's right to good, fair, and equitable treatment by a health care worker who has taken an oath to "first do no harm." It's not about abortion at all. It's about humanity.
Does this woman deserve to be sanctioned for his actions?
Image via benklocek/FLickr