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photos by Lara Shipley

Pagan Prescriptions

December 2nd, 2004 · No Comments

You’ve probably read stories about religious pharmacists refusing to prescribe the morning after pill, or even ordinary birth control pills. I wonder how they’d feel about that ubiquitous pharmacists’ “Rx” symbol if they knew where it came from. See, Dad’s been going through an Egyptian phase. (I was named during his Roman phase; I’m told that if I were born now, I’d have been called “Ramses.” Let’s just say I’m happy with how things worked out.) And so he explained this weekend that (according to one theory, anyway) the “Rx” doesn’t actually stand for anything, it’s a corruption of a symbol representing the eye of Horus, the Egyptian god.

Incidentally, this poll seems totally useless. It asks: “Should Pharmacists Opposed To Birth Control Be Able To Refuse To Sell Birth Control Pills?” Well, what does that mean? If it means “should it be legal for me to run a Catholic pharmacy where we don’t dispense birth control?” then I’d have answered yeah, absolutely. It seems more likely, in light of proposed legislation like this that its instead asking whether you should be able to take a job at CBS and then refuse to do your job without worrying about getting fired by invoking religion. And there, I’d say “of course not.” What’s unsettling is that it seems not to have occured to whoever framed the question that this was a relevant—indeed, crucial—distinction. Either (the idea seems to be) you think they “should be able to refuse,” meaning neither government nor their employer can prevent them, or they “shouldn’t be able to refuse” meaning the law should require it of everyone. The idea that how you’re prevented from refusing, or by whom, might make a difference seems not to be on the map.

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