Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pro Life Pharmacist

I know this article is a little late, but I received a couple of e-mails yesterday that follow up.

Hi All,

It makes my blood run cold when I learn about what is going on in our country right now relative to the healthcare professions and the constitutionally guaranteed (on both federal and state levels) freedom of religious expression and liberty of conscience.

Last spring I asked your prayers for pharmacist friends of mine in Great Falls who followed their consciences and stopped filling prescriptions for contraceptive medications. The Holy Spirit has been with them, and they have suffered no significant problems (so far) once the initial bruhaha calmed down. Now there is another Montana pharmacist, John Lane, in Broadus (a city in the vicinity of Billings) who has made the same decision. (It's a small world out here -- he happens to be the cousin-in-law of my pastor at St. Mark's in Belt!) He, however, is going through much more.

Eleven people have written complaints to the Montana Board of Pharmacy about his decision, citing him for "unprofessional conduct," with one going so far as to request that his license be revoked. All of these complaints were written by people who live in different parts of the state, with 10 of the 11 living in Missoula (a university town, don't you know!), which is about 400 miles from Broadus. From that distance, none of the compainants will ever need John Lane's services themselves, so his decision has no personal bearing on them.

Regardless, John must now appear before the Montana Board of Pharmacy review panel on Wed., March 5th. He has requested that it be an open session, so that people could attend. His request was denied. He will appear in a closed session with the 11 complainants and their lawyers. He will be represented by an attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that only takes cases that deal with religious freedoms or preservation of life.

Please pray that this man's constitutional right to run his business as he sees fit, based on his religious beliefs and his conscience will be upheld. His situation represents a growing trend in this country. South Dakota has a bill before their legislators to repeal their state's pharmacist conscience clause. Other states have talked about doing the same. And my own home state of Wisconsin has passed a law denying freedom of conscience to hospitals and doctors regarding emergency contraception.

Please remember, when people like John Lane or my Great Falls pharmacist friends, or institutions like Catholic hospitals, make policy based on their religious beliefs and their consciences, it isn't like there are no other pharmacies or hospitals for people to turn to. There are many, many more pharmacies and hospitals providing all of the contraception and abortion services than there are those that are not. This isn't about supply and demand -- it's about dictatorial control that prohibits some people's freedoms -- constitutionally guaranteed freedoms at that! This is no small thing.

At any rate, this terrible "Big Brother" injustice is happening one small, privately-owned pharmacy at a time so far in Montana. And that creates a situation of untold stress for those involved. Please pray for John Lane and his family. If you would like to send him an email of support, his email address is jalane@rangeweb.net. And please pass the request for prayers on to anyone you know who might respond with prayer support.

Thank you! Your prayers not only, I'm sure, affected the outcome of the controversy for my friends at Snyder's Drug in Great Falls, but they kept them afloat emotionally and spiritually during a very intensely stressful time for them. I'm sure that will be true for John Lane, too.

May the Lord have mercy on our country, its politicians and its judges. Just today, the first reading at Mass was from Deuteronomy: "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil... therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him... (Dt 30:15,19c-20a)

I hope all is well with all of you. I'm fine and very busy -- and blessed to have 40 Days for Life going on in Great Falls so I can participate in it. God is so good! God bless you and your loved ones!
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