Instapundit on drugs

…or pharmacists actually:

I HAVE A LIBERTARIAN SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM: Over at The Corner we’re seeing a rather large number of abortion-related posts today. In this one (which really goes beyond the abortion issue) Kathryn Jean Lopez decries a poll showing that 80% of Americans think that pharmacists ought to have to fill prescriptions for contraceptives even if they’re personally opposed to birth control.

Of course, this only matters because pharmacists enjoy a government-created monopoly on the dispensing of prescription drugs. Just take that away, and the problem disappears, too. In the meantime, like others who enjoy government monopolies, they are forced to make some concessions to public convenience. That doesn’t strike me as an overwhelming imposition, but if the pharmacy profession feels otherwise, I’ll be the first to support a move to eliminate its privileged position.

But his comment makes no sense. The issue of whether an individual pharmacist should be free to follow his conscience has nothing to do with the fact that only pharmacists can dispense prescription drugs. Besides, Reynolds doesn’t explain how being denied the purchase of a non-prescription drug from a non-regulated seller would be any better from the perspective of the buyer.

He’s grossly abusing the term “monopoly” as well. Is the practice of law a monopoly because one must be a member of the bar to practice? Having standards for training to practice a profession does not make a monopoly.

Would Mr. Reynolds hold that anyone should be allowed to practice law, without going to law school or passing a bar exam? Would Mr. Reynolds hold that because lawyers are subject to these requirements, they must take every potential client that walks in their door? Or does he think lawyers should be free to choose which cases they’ll take?

Which would most Americans consider a better society – one where an individual pharmacist is free to follow his conscience in a particular circumstance, or a Libertarian one where any regulation is too much? You want totally unregulated trade in dispensing drugs? How about a crack house across the street from your kid’s elementary school? Who are we to judge? No wonder Libertarians do so poorly in every election.

What’s notable about the issue is the hypocrisy of people who call themselves “pro-choice” denying choice to people who are pharmacists. A person doesn’t lose all of his freedoms simply because he works in a regulated profession. The interests really at odds here are the inconvenience of a buyer having to drive to a different pharmacy, versus forcing a pharmacist to violate his deeply held moral values. The former is clearly less of an imposition than the latter.

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