Christian pharmacists and morning-before-and-after pills...

Error message

(Tim, w/thanks to Carole) A few months ago, our local newspaper carried an article on how many local pharmacies and pharmacists were exercising their consciences by not carrying or fulfilling prescriptions for morning-after pills that work by killing the unborn child. Newspaper journalist Dan Denny ended his article with a quote from Jerry Frederick, a well-known former Indiana University staff worker for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship who now works as a pharmacist at the Kroger on Bloomington's west side.

Some pharmacists have refused to dispense the morning-after pills... Meghan Glynn, spokeswoman for Kroger's corporate office, said if a Kroger sales associate indicates in writing, in advance, that he or she has a moral objection to dispensing Plan B contraception, the person can arrange for another associate to provide the customer with the pills.

Jerry Frederick, an evangelical Christian and pharmacist at Kroger West in Bloomington, likes that policy.

"I don't think it's appropriate for a pharmacist to push his morality onto another person," he said...

"But neither do I think pharmacists should be forced to dispense a pill that they feel will result in the death of a fetus. If they believe life begins at conception, they should be able to refuse to dispense the morning-after pill."

Frederick said he would never dispense RU-486, even if it cost him his job, because it ends a pregnancy. But he said he does not have a moral conviction against dispensing the morning-after pill. "The Bible says life is in the blood, and blood cells form in the fetus about the same time the fertilized egg is implanted," he said. "Because I believe life begins at implantation, I don't feel the morning-after pill kills a human life."

Leaving aside the question of whether Christian presidents, judges, senators, police, professors, teachers, principals, CEOs, social workers, counselors, pastors, nurses, mothers, doctors, attorneys, elders, parachurch workers, store managers, or pharmacists can lift a finger without "pushing their morality onto another person," Mr. Frederick's definition of the beginning of human life is wrong.

Human life has never begun at implantation. It begins at fertilization.

True, in 1965 the American College of Obstreticians and Gynecologists changed the definition of conception to "the implantation of the fertilized ovum." But everyone knew this was a simple manipulation of facts to serve ACOG's ideological needs.

Interestingly enough, despite ACOG's own efforts at silencing the consciences of its members, it's apparent they're not entirely effective. Here's an abstract of an article that appeared in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. It summarizes a study done to determine the convictions of ACOG members concerning the beginning of human life and the definition of pregnancy and conception. Note how, even in this abstract, they hammer home their own changed definitions of conception and pregnancy (and thus, the beginning of human life):

The purposes of this study are to assess the use of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) definitions of conception (a synonym for implantation) and the beginning of pregnancy (at implantation) in the clinical practice of its members and to explore the implications of differing definitions of conception and pregnancy onset for the process of informed consent. A survey was mailed to 112 members of the Louisville Ob/Gyn Society asking what definition of conception they used in their clinical practice and when they judged pregnancy began. ...A total of 73% (70 of 96) (95% CI 69-77%) of the members indicated that conception was a synonym for fertilization, and 24% (23 of 96) (95% CI 21-28%) indicated that conception was a synonym for implantation (P < .001). Of the members, 50% (48 of 96) indicated that pregnancy began at fertilization, and 48% (46 of 96) indicated that pregnancy began with implantation (NS). Regression analysis failed to demonstrate a significant relationship to type of practice, years in practice, or the ACOG membership for these responses. Neither ACOG definition has been consistently adopted by its members whose definitions are more consistent with lay and embryologist definitions. Potentially, the process of informed consent is jeopardized by these ambiguities. The ACOG is urged to reconsider its definitions. J. Matern. - Fetal Med. 7:264-268, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Note that three out of every four members of ACOG speak as if they believe that conception (and therefore pregnancy and human life) all begin at the moment of fertilization--not the moment of implantation.

So now, where exactly does Mr. Frederick get his talk of the Bible telling us something about blood and implantation? And has any high school biology student corrected him, yet?

But then again, the Pill also prevents implantation. So really, if we are committed to protecting human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, we'll have nothing to do with the Pill whether it's morning-before or morning-after. Consider this:


According to the authoritative medical textbook, Contraceptive Technology, to make an informed choice, concerned women must be notified about the mechanism of action. Women need to know that "all regular hormonal contraceptives (the pill, implant, injectable) and emergency contraceptive pills," may prevent pregnancy by "inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg."

True, the morning-before Pill may end up working by preventing ovulation or fertilization, but what risk are we willing to take with human life? Are we really willing to go to the mat with Mr. Frederick in defense of some purported Bible doctrine of blood that supposedly endorses the ACOG's redefinition of conception and pregnancy?

I hope not.

(While we're on the subject, here's an interesting article by Planned Parenthood's research arm, the Guttmacher Institute's, publication, The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, titled "The Implications of Defining When a Woman Is Pregnant.")