Friday, April 15, 2005

The Republican parade

A Texas legislator named Frank Corte, a Republican from San Antonio who mentions in his official biography that he was educated at "Christian schools" has introduced a bill, HB 16, that will absolve Texas pharmacists, nurses, or other medical personnel, of the obligation to provide emergency contraceptives to women whose contraceptive needs offend their sensibilities. The bill speaks to the "rights" of medical personnel not to suffer "discrimination" at the hand of employers. The bill of course says nothing about the rights of the women, rather it's about protecting the feelings of the people behind the counter. And it would seem that self-employed pharmacists in Texas can already legally refuse to fill such prescriptions, if they feel like it. If Corte's bill becomes law, a pharmacist working for a large chain like Walgreen's Pharmacy can't be fired for refusing to do his or her job, at least to the extent that it involves selling emergency contraceptives.
Further, if the bill passes, such employers cannot refuse to hire people who have an "attitude" opposing abortion or opposing the filling of birth control prescriptions.

The word "attitude" is the closest the bill gets to overtly talking about religion.

It's kind of an odd piece of legislation. An "emergency contraceptive" is defined in HB 16 as "a prescription drug containing an elevated dose of hormones that is used to prevent pregnancy." People whose biological literacy is not a product of Christian schools like Mr. Corte's might notice that the definition of emergency contraceptive, above, could easily be construed to include regular birth control pills. Thus the bill as written could end up giving overly devout Catholic druggists the right to refuse to fill ordinary birth control prescriptions, if they read the definition and realize what it means. Presumably pharmacists, at least, might notice the latitude given them by the wording of the statute.

The stated intention of the bill, however, is to exempt pharmacists with attitude from having to sell emergency contraception medications only, assuming the State of Texas can find a way to distinguish emergency contraceptives from ordinary contraceptives.

I am surprised only that Texas did not lead the way on this. This is the sort of thing where our legislators would normally be out in front, ahead of the pack nationwide. We are behind for a change, and I suppose that at least is a good thing.

OK, let's look at the biography of Frank Corte, on his web page. I think it tells us something.

[He attended] San Antonio Christian Schools and graduated in 1977. It was at A&M that he graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Building Construction. While at A&M, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Fighting Texas Aggie Band.
In 1982, Representative Corte was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps where he served three years on active duty. He then joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve and was activated during the Gulf War. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Rep. Corte was called back to active duty and was sent to Egypt for duty. In 2004, he completed six months of active duty assigned to United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command Korea as a policy planner. In 2002, he graduated from the prestigious Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Currently, he is a Colonel and continues to serve various tours of active duty.
An Eagle Scout at the age of 14, he is still involved with the Alamo Area Boy Scouts serving as a Cubmaster. He is also an active member of University Baptist Church, where he serves as a Deacon and Sunday School teacher. In 1989, he was named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America.

Aside from my question "Egypt? What the hell?" this life history seems to indicate something important. This guy is not someone who has ever worked for wages. Or if he has he certainly takes pains not to mention it on his web page. And given the profile, my bet is that he does not presently hang around with any pharmacists, with or without attitude, who toil for wages filling prescriptions.

It's the genius of the Republican Party that guys like this can be leading the parade of the pharmacists with attitude, assuming there are any. Or at least leading the parade.

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