If there were a Target in Taipei, I’d boycott them

It’s only in the Age of Bush that we got the privilege of seeing politicians refused communion for not rejecting womens’ right to choose; of seeing Fundamentalist pseudo-science introduced into public school curricula; and of seeing major chain stores claim it’s their employees’ right to refuse service to customers based on their religious beliefs.

As you may recall, Target is letting its pharmacists refuse to fill your order for emergency contracptive pills (Plan B, as it’s called) simply because they find your prescription immoral. Target is now saying that they’ll fill your prescription in a “timely manner” at another pharmacy, or at their pharmacy at a later time (presumably when their holier-than-thou employee is on break).

I don’t know about you, but when I go to the pharmacist, I don’t want him sending me to another Target 40 miles away simply because he has religious issues with my prescription. It’s none of his business what prescription I’m getting filled, and short of there being a glaring mistake in my prescription a la “It’s a Wonderful Life” – i.e., instead of allergy pills someone gave me cyanide – it’s none of his damn business passing religious judgment on my prescriptions, my illnesses, my prefered form of treatment, or me.

I already have a priest, and he doesn’t work at Target, thank you.

But Target feels otherwise. In fact, Target is now claiming – quite incredibly – that its employees’ religious fanaticism is covered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, apparently Target employees are allowed to not sell you things based on THEIR religion. That’s an absurd, and rather dangerous, legal statement from Target.

So let’s ask Target if they also support the following Target employees:

– Check out clerks who verify how fat you are before selling you that package of potato chips?
– Pharmacists who don’t want to fill prescriptions for Jewish customers who killed Christ.
– Pharmacists who don’t want to help customers who worship a “Satanic counterfeit” (read: “The Pope,” in fundie-speak).
– Pharmacists who only dispense HIV medicine to “innocent victims” of AIDS.
– Pharmacists who want proof that women seeking emergency contraception were really raped, and that they didn’t “deserve it.”
– Pharmacists (or cashiers) who are Christian Scientists – can they refuse to sell any medicine, even aspirin, to anyone?
– Pharmacists who won’t sell birth control pills to unmarried women, condoms to unmarried men, or any birth control at all because God doesn’t want people spilling their seed.
– Can fundamentalist Christian employees refuse to interact with gay people in any way, shape or form since gays are sinners, abominations, biological errors, and very likely pedophiles?

Some of those are mighty far-fetched, but I appreciate John’s point. In the past, such issues would never have arisen. It was a fact of life that we kept our religious sentiments to ourselves, far from our workplace. The fundies are actively seeking to collapse traditional barriers, and big business has to realize we won’t let them. You can get your shampoo and your t-shirts and your prescriptions at other places. For now, boycott Target.
Targeting Women (photo via TBogg)

The Discussion: 65 Comments


If I were to step into your convenience store and ask for a hand gun and a hard core pornographic magazine, you’d be well within your rights to tell me that you were not stocking either product on moral grounds, and to throw me out.

Please extend the same curtesy to target employees. They are not taking your freedom of choice away from you, they are only saying that they won’t take your money.

It’s not as if they are the only drug-store in America.

November 15, 2005 @ 1:34 am | Comment

PS, your comment filter is blocking the word ph*rmacy

November 15, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Yes, I say in my comment rules that the word pharmasy is blocked, and for damned good reason!

You are quite right that they are not the only drug store in town. So I urge shoppers to buy their drugs elsewhere.

Prescription drugs fall into a different category from porn and guns, don’t you think? And if you were working in a store that sells porn and guns but refused to sell them to a customer on moral grounds, then you should not be working there; you should be fired for insubordination.

November 15, 2005 @ 1:46 am | Comment

‘If you were working in a store that sells porn and guns but refused to sell them to a customer on moral grounds, then you should not be working there; you should be fired for insubordination.

SHOULD be fired? Really? Why? If the owner of the store decides that he is willing to accomodate my religious belief and allow me not to sell porn and guns, who are you to say that he is wrong and should instead fire me?

It’s his store, his capital, his customers, his revenues and his workforce. I can’t see how you or anyone else have any say in his decision whatsoever.

Same for Target. Some employees have decided that they do not wish to sell such products. Target can accomodate them or fire them, its up to Target.

Target has chosen to accomodate them.

As a potential customer, knowing Target’s policy, YOU can choose whether to patronize Target or not, that decision is entirely up to you.

As things stand now, Target’s employees are free to follow their beliefs, Target is free to employ whom it wishes and you are free to shop where you want.

Why you feel the need to introduce coercion into the equation is a mystery to me.

November 15, 2005 @ 2:34 am | Comment

A man walks into a hardware store carrying a large burlap sack. He heads directly to the gardening section, and returns carrying a shovel (in addition to his sack). After buying the shovel, he promptly sets down the sack and takes out a cute baby bunny. Setting the the bunny down on the floor, he then takes aim with the shovel. Taking a giant swing, he crushes the bunny into a pancake (with gore galore). He takes out another bunny from the sack, and repeats the flattening process. After he smites the 12th baby bunny, the shovel breaks.

Heaving his sack, which is still quite full, onto his back, he gets another shovel and returns to the checkout counter. The cashier, who has been witness to his Bunny Holocaust, refuses to sell him the shovel.

“But I’m doing nothing illegal. The bunnies are my property, and the state protects my right to do as I see fit with them. I choose to squish them,” says the now irate customer.

“I don’t care that it’s not illegal,” says the cashier, still stunned. “I’m not selling you the goddam shovel.”

An argument ensues, and the manager is called over. After both sides explain their positions, the manager sides with the cashier. Would you please take your business elsewhere? he asks.

Baffled at this store’s oppression of his right to smush bunnies, he storms off, vowing revenge.

How should we judge the actions of cashier, manager, and bunny-killer?

November 15, 2005 @ 2:38 am | Comment

Conrad, you put in a big IF in there. Clever. Anyway, yeah, they are free to follow their beliefs, and I am free to follow mine: Any company that makes it official policy to refuse to fill a prescription for any medication it sells based solely on the religious inclinations of its staff should be boycotted. Please look at the examples in the blockquote – of a clerk refusing to sell potato chips to a chubby person, for example. Bad policy. Stores that do that are asking for a boycott.

Sean, I believe cruelty to animals is illegal. So I would probably not sell the shovels. However, that’s a very far-fetched example and I have never read of such a thing occurring, while there have been reports of zealous pharmacists refusing to fill contraceptive prescriptions. Do you know if such icidents ever took place? In any case, I fail to see any parallel. If taking a pill is akin to torturing animals…well, I just don’t see it.

November 15, 2005 @ 2:48 am | Comment

And on another note, ever wonder how people can find abortion so evil, and yet do so little about it?

Seriously, if they wanted to stop this type of thing, they should just pool together and buy the patent rights to those medicines. Refuse to let them be made, and voila.

Probably the people funding AIDS research are those kind of people. They’ll find a cure, close it off to everyone, and rejoicing “let the fags die!”

November 15, 2005 @ 2:49 am | Comment

Richard, I doubt a cruelty case could be made in my example. They had good lives and painless deaths. At the very least, we can say this happened in Montana and you point would be moot.

My point was to give an example of something that you might find abhorrent, but that isn’t illegal. The fact that it may not happen shouldn’t change the ethics involved.

November 15, 2005 @ 2:52 am | Comment

Sean, think of a serious, real-life scenario and I’ll honestly consider it. Think of a product someone needs or wants that is sold in your store that you think you can justifiably refuse to sell to them. Obviously, if you sell fertilizer and you think they are making a bomb you have an obligation to call the police. Or if you believe they are going to commit any kind of illegal act. But if your store sells it and you refuse to let the customer have it, your store is left open to serious criticism, and when they write it into their corporate policy, they are open to suggestions of a boycott. Sad but true.

November 15, 2005 @ 2:59 am | Comment

Fine, Richard, how about a medical supplier refusing to sell anything to an animal testing facility?

The claim in the email (that moral judgements in business are ridiculous) is ridiculous. If you’re just saying that you oppose Target’s policy (though accepting their right to do so), and want to take part in the boycott… well, that’s fine too.

I just find it funny that the “pro-choice” position here is: “I find your moral oppostition to killing a fetus abhorrent, and oppose it on moral grounds”.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:12 am | Comment

What it boils down to for me is institutionalizing a policy that allows healthcare providers the right to deny healthcare based on their personal religious beliefs. Now, a doctor has the right not to give abortions of course; he’s his own man and can do whatever operations he chooses. But to see a national chain adopt a policy whereby one’s religious convictions can dictate what they will or won’t sell to the customer — I simply don’t like it. it reeks of the self-righteous fundamentalist religious obsession that’s got my country in a stranglehold, from intelligent design to anti-gay marriage amendments. It’s just another extension of this diseased mentality.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:21 am | Comment

What it boils down to for me is institutionalizing a policy that allows [research equipment] providers the right to deny [research equipment] based on their personal [feelings towards animals]. Now, a [scientist] has the right not to [vivisect a bunny]; he’s his own man and can do whatever operations he chooses. But to see a national chain adopt a policy whereby one’s [feelings towards animals] can dictate what they will or won’t sell to the customer — I simply don’t like it. it reeks of the self-righteous fundamentalist [animal] obsession that’s got my country in a stranglehold, from [PETA] to [gay marriage]. It’s just another extension of this diseased mentality.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:28 am | Comment

Good comparison, taking a birth control pill – not having an abortion, just swallowing a pill – to vivisecting animals. Seriously, if I ever hear of such a case as you describe, maybe I’ll recommend a boycott of that firm, too. But until then, I’m talking about reality. Women have been denied medication. That is wrong. Period. You can try to rationalize this by comparing it to torturing bunnies or whatever. I say it’s another scary example of religion intruding into places it doesn’t belong.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:33 am | Comment


The junk food example is not on point because there is no moral element in that hypothetical. Selling the chips does not require the clerk to violate her religious beliefs.

This example isn’t entirely on point either but it think it is helpful. You are a bartender. A very pregnant woman walks into the bar and says “give me a double scotch and keep ’em coming, I intend to get very drunk today.

Do you serve her?

How about this one. A redneck walks into your sporting goods store and selects a baseball bat, telling you “I intend to bash me some queers tonight with this.”

Do you sell him the bat?

November 15, 2005 @ 3:35 am | Comment

I would say yes, you do sell the pregnant lady her drink. It’s none of your business; pregnant women can still have a drink (I think one or two) without harming their baby. It’s her body and her baby, and she is breaking no laws.

I would refuse to sell a baseball bat to the guy who says he intends to use it to commit murder. Murder is a serious crime. Again, I have a hard time relating this to a woman taking a birth control pill.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:42 am | Comment

What about the thrid drink? The fourth drink? The eighth drink? The tenth? Do you sell her those?

With respect to the gay bashing, while you may have a hard time relating murder to birth control, this is exactly the dilemma that the Christian pharmacists believe they face. In a certain percentage of cases, birth control pills, Depo-provera injections, and Norplant implants achieve their results by acting as an abortificient. That is, they prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

The pharmicists in question believe that life begins with the fertilization of the egg and that this is abortion and therefore murder.

So, the pharmicists beleve that dispensing the prescription would make them complicit in what they sincerely believe to me murder.

November 15, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

Fine. Except it’s never been an issue until the the Age of Bush, which has been on a rampage against contraception and abortion and its “Choose Life” bullshit (as he sends more people to their deaths than any other governor). This all seems one more manifestation of the refuse-communion-to-Kerry sickness that suddenly reared its ugly head this year. Anyway, I have my take on it, you have yours. I say boycott Target, and am joined by an array of proud liberal bloggers. Do as your conscience dictates and I’ll do the same. Life is full of tricky ethical dilemmas, some of them unresolvable. We have to deal with them as we see fit.

November 15, 2005 @ 4:15 am | Comment

Richard, you are a blue-state farce. Animal vivisection worse than abortion? According to some religions, human life is sacred and animal life isn’t. And the fact that the animal is sacrificed to keep millions of people healthy, and the fetus is killed for the convenience of a single person should also be a sign.

I’m not pro-life, but I understand the issues involved. You obviously don’t.

November 15, 2005 @ 4:53 am | Comment


Nice Bunny analogy, except that in many countries it would be ilegal to do that under laws prohibiting animal cruelty and laws regarding creating a public disturbance.

November 15, 2005 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Well done Richard

I look forward to seeing your letter to the ACLU explaining clearely how a Jewish book store breached your civil liberties by refusing to sell you a copy of the Koran, plus the one about the owner of the groccery store who refused to sell you battery farmed eggs because they believed that it was cruel. or how about a complaint to a shop that refuses to stock real animal fur.

I am also now expecting my summons for refusing to grant a travel visa to a couple on the grounds that he is known a pimp and the Chinese girl that he is traveling with is probably going to end up in a brothel in Kabukicho.

You can’t force somebody to take part in an activity that they believe is morally wrong, that is a violation of THEIR civil liberties.

Rules to prevent target from doing this could also be very dangerous as they could be twisted to force anybody to sell anything that is legal to sell.

Vote with your feet if you want, that is your perogative. You have pleanty of other options.

November 15, 2005 @ 5:16 am | Comment

I am flabbergasted by all the comments I read here.

I am not American, so maybe I miss out on some of the sensitivities that exist over there, but I can tell you I am fully with Richard on this one. If an employee has problems with selling anti-conception based on religious beliefs, then that employee should be the only one that is really in trouble because he should (and where I live, will) be fired on the spot. A store endorsing this behaviour while having the product on sale, is nothing but an object of ridicule. You can not at the same time try to cash in as much as possible with a straight face (because there will be employees with less restrictions who will sell the contraceptives), while on the other pretending to be God’s right hand and conscience on earth. I think I’ve never heard of anything more hypocrite than this.

Massive boycot indeed.

As goes for the pregnant woman, you indeed sell her a drink, but any pubowner here is under the legal obligation to refuse drinks to people who are already or seem well on the way to get drunk. So you simply refuse the 3rd and 4th and … drink. I have never heard of any legal obligation, also not in the U.S. , to refuse contraceptives. And for the baseball bat, you refuse, because worst case you don’t want to be accomplice to a crime and best case, if the guy was joking, you make him realize that he has to grow up and get a life. It’s as simple as that.

November 15, 2005 @ 6:16 am | Comment

Okay, the “blue state farce” comment of mine was a bit much. But it always seems people talk past one another on these issues, and it irks me when they don’t even try to reconcile.

Those who object to abortion don’t seem to realize that it’s just a firggin zygote that has a 90% chance of being terminated anyway. Those who are pro-choice seem ignorant of the fact that you’re de facto messing with human life and that some consider it MURDER.

Those who object to animal vivisection assume that all living things deserve some modicum of respect, whereas there are others who see them all as nothing more than walking meat.

So please, everyone. Some understanding.

November 15, 2005 @ 6:26 am | Comment

ACB, if the Jewish bookstore sells the Koran but then refuses to sell it to someone, they should be boycotted. Same with a market that sells eggs – if they sell them, they should not refuse someone who asks for them. If they do….

November 15, 2005 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Lao Lu, thanks for the badly needed dose of sanity.

November 15, 2005 @ 7:55 am | Comment

Richard, you’re most welcome. Can’t believe there is even discussion on this one.

November 15, 2005 @ 8:10 am | Comment

Loa Lu is not adding sanity, he’s dodging the issue by trying to introduce irrelevant determinative factors to decide the hypotheticals on other grounds, thereby dodging the issue at hand. Some first year law students try this, but are very quickly disabused of the practice by their professors.

So, assume:

1. In the jurisdiction in which the pregnant woman is drinking, there is no law prohibiting serving alcohol to the intoxicated.

Now, do you sell the drinks?

2. In the bat seller’s jurisdiction there is no third party liability for criminal assault.

Now, do you sell the bat?

Another, this time real life, example. When I was a young law firm associate, my firm was retained to defend a certain oppressive Asian country against tort claims by victims of alleged human rights violations.

Every defendant is entitled to legal representation and a defence. My firm was “selling” legal services and was offering its services to defend the accused country.

I was asked to assist. But I did not feel morally comfortable handling the case and I requested to be excused from the defence team.

My law firm had the right to fire me if they wanted to. They did not. Instead, they accomodated my personal convictions and granted my request.

Was I wrong to decline to provide my services on moral grounds? Should the firm have demanded I participate? Should I have been fired? Should the firm have been boycotted for accomodating me?

If the answers are no, then what is the difference between my firm allowing me to refuse to sell my legal services to a client and Target allowing its employee to refuse to sell certain contraceptives?

November 15, 2005 @ 8:46 am | Comment

It seems like Target has been given a tough choice and made a pragmatic decision.

If they decided to take a hard line and fire every pharmacist that didn’t sell everything, they’d probably have to shut down a large number of their pharmacies completely, because pharmacists are in short supply.
Also, if they took that hard line, they’d have a real controversy because it would look very bad to fire pharmacists who were acting on conscience. And they’d have lawsuits on their hands.

There is a significant portion of the population that agrees with these pharmacists, and that’s the difference between this and the silly theoreticals you quote in your original post.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:12 am | Comment


I am far from being a lawyer, so I am not going to enter into any legal debate, but I’ll give you some plain gut response:

For the pregnant woman: yes, I’d sell her one or two drinks and then stop. I need no law to act as a socially responsible person.

For the baseball bat: I have nothing to add to what I have said before. If someone wants to act irresponsibly, let it be without my being part of it.

Now, back to that Target pharmacist and the contraceptives. If the woman is not allowed to buy it, and because of lack of it, she becomes pregnant, how many more wolves you think will be howling afterwards because she wants an abortion. Who the hell invented in the first place that contraceptives are counter-religious ?

As for your personal dilemma. Assuming that you consider yourself right with what you did on moral grounds (and maybe that’s so, I am not going to make that process here), I also assume that you consider those who don’t act like you morally wrong. Now if every lawyer would act in your way, where would that leave the legal system, where every accused has the right to be defended and is innocent until proven guilty ?

November 15, 2005 @ 10:53 am | Comment

Richard, I haven’t had time to run down much information on Target, but today I received an email from a right wing source urging me to boycott Target because they refused to support a veterans group and allegedly returned a letter to the effect that they only endorsed (among other liberal causes) “gay and lesbian rights”. Could it be that Target is being “targetted” for a disinformation campaign. I am reminded of the “Witchcraft” Symbol campaign against Proctor and Gamble some years ago.

November 15, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

Hi Lirelou. Actually, I ‘ve heard some good things about Target myself and you may be onto something. Maybe it’s a plot by a competitor. But in any event, nothing can excuse their position on allowing employees to refuse to sell contraception based on religious belies. I find it deeply troubling and I’m hoping talk of a boycott will stop it in its tracks.

November 15, 2005 @ 8:14 pm | Comment

Everybody seems all bent over shape over nothing. Richard and Lao Lu are saying they’d support a boycott – exercising their right to free assembly, speech, and choose where they shop. ACB, Conrad and Sean are saying private businesses have a right to refuse service if they feel they are contributing to some social harm. Lao Lu, I’d just throw out here that you are muddling things when you say that you are “socially responsible” when you refuse to give a pregnant woman a drink but fail to see that is exactly what the pharmacist thinks he is doing too. There is no distinction other than his beliefs happen not to be yours.

What shocks me is not the positions y’all are taking, it’s that no one is mentioning that here we have a health care provider – do they have a code of ethics? Ah, they do, such as:

III. A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient.

A pharmacist promotes the right of self-determination and recognizes individual self-worth by encouraging patients to participate in decisions about their health. A pharmacist communicates with patients in terms that are understandable. In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.

Of course, this doesn’t completely solve the problem, since a pro-life pharmacist is going to think there are two patients.

All this red state/blue state crap makes me ill. I wish we could just leave each other alone. Next best thing – I’ll flee the country again.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Thanks Dave; you are always a source of wisdom and light.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:52 pm | Comment

Wait, there’s more! There’s a Federal amendment to the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act in Congress that would give pharmacists a legal “conscience clause” to refuse dispensing certain prescriptions. The APA gave this testimony, specifically talking about emergency contraception. I really can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, but the APA supports having a) the right of conscientious refusal and b) systems in place so that the patient does not suffer a disruption of service. How you pull that off without the pharmacist still doing something he finds morally objectionable like saying “here are directions to Planned Parenthood”, I don’t know. But that is what Target’s rules actually say:

Target defends its policy, pointing out that if the pharmacist refuses to dispense the drug, he or she must pass it on to another pharmacist at the same location. If none is available, the pharmacist must call another Target and make sure the drug is available for the customer.

“We are committed to getting these prescriptions filled,” said Lena Michaud, spokeswoman for Target Stores. “But we also have to respect associates with strongly held religious beliefs.”

In a company statement, Target officials added that their policy follows recommendations made by the American Pharmacists Association. It’s a rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with a request for emergency contraception, officials said.

“Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest,” Target’s statement said.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

I’m just surprised no one here looked anything up. Especially Conrad – come on man, lawyer it up! Hit us with massive discovery materials! Overwhelm us with reports!

And if I were the bartender, I’d give that lady what-for and cab fare, not a drink, and if you ask any experienced bartender who has seen many years of pathetic and self-destructive people, they’ll all tell you the same thing.

November 15, 2005 @ 10:03 pm | Comment


I’m not saying Richard shouldn’t boycott, I’m just saying his reasons for doing so are muddled: “Religious beliefs shouldn’t affect how an company does business.”

But that’s not the issue, and that’s not why he’s mad. If it were just what he says, there would be many other busnisses suffering his ire (my imaginary hardware store, or any number of PETA-affiliated stores).

The true reason he’s mad, is that he believes it is a woman’s right to murder her just-concieved, unborn child. He seems blind to the problem you state so succinctly: there are two patients.

A deparment store should be allowed to let an employee discourage people from buying Nike because of their child-labor sweatshops (another of richard’s Bad Things). Target should let its employees choose not to be part of what they consider murder.

I support organized boycotts and all, but I can see this becoming a law (as I’m sure both sides would push for). I don’t want people to be forced to sell baby bunny smashing shovels because of this.

Richard should restate his position as “women should be allowed to abort babies wherever and however they like”, instead of his current “religion has no place in business” stance.

November 15, 2005 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

The true reason he’s mad, is that he believes it is a woman’s right to murder her just-concieved, unborn child.

If you ever post aything like that again you will be permanently banned.

November 15, 2005 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Okay, richard. Instead I’ll say that you believe, “it’s a woman’s right to take her prescribed medication that induces abortion”.

Except to a good percentage of people’s ears, that’s no different from what I wrote.

November 15, 2005 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

Richard, are you threatening to ban Sean for describing abortion the way many people perceive it, or for saying you’re mad? I don’t really see either as a bannable offense.

Sean, I understand that no one is against Richard’s right to protest. But if you’re going to make the case that Target has a right to employ these pharmacists, I suggest not trying awkward analogies. Honestly, the rabbit-shovel example? Wow. That was a tortured analogy. Pun intended.

Anyway, the point is better made that this is neither about abortion or religion. This is about pharmacists having the right to provide what they believe is the best medical care. Sometimes that belief will be “get this girl a contraceptive, stat”, sometimes it’ll be “my god, she’s going to snuff out a life”. Other times it will be “everybody in the neighborhood knows Alice tried to hang herself last week and now she’s got a prescription from god knows where for morphine…”

November 15, 2005 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Reading these comments, one thing has become crystal clear, those opposing Target’s policy of accomodating its employees moral/religious convictions ARE NOT, in fact, opposed to such accomodation across the board. Rather, they simply oppose Target’s accomodation of this particular conviction because they disagree with it.

Let a man follow his conscience, they say, just so long as his conscience is not in opposition with mine.

Look at Lao Lu, who concedes, despite continued attempts to avoid a straight answer, that he is perfectly happy to withhold liqour from pregnant women and baseball bats from bigots, because he believes these goods will be put to an immoral use, but nevertheless is eager to comepel the pharmacist to provide abortificients.

Finally, for our host, compelling pro-life pharmacists to provide abortificents in violation of their religious convictions is apparently not enough. He is now threatening to ban commenters for expressing the pro-life view that abortion is murder.

But banning does not change the fact that any reputable biolgical scientist will testify that the moment that a human sperm fertilizes a human egg the result is a seperate living entity and that entity is fully gentically human.

Anyone who knowingly participates in the termination of that life has committed a homicide, just as surely as if they had waited for the child to be born and then strangled her.

November 15, 2005 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Dave, he said I believe women have a right to murder their unborn children. No one will say that I believe in a right to murder on this site.

This raises deeper questions. If a fertilized egg is the exact equivalent of a baby – if killing an egg constitutes “murder” – why do the anti-abortion people make an exception for the victims of rape and ince$t? Sean likes scenarios, so here’s one: Let’s say a women had been raped in her sleep by her brother and didn’t know it and thought the baby she was pregnant with was her husband’s. Years later she finds out the truth, and DNA tests confirm the baby is the product of ince$t/rape. Can she then choose to kill her five-year-old child? Of course not. Her child is not an egg, it is a living, breathing, conscious, awake human being capable of thought, etc. It’s not like the child is Terri Schiavo.

The majority of Americans believe in a woman’s right to an abortion. Are we all proponents of “killing babies”? If so, we have a lot of baby-killer sympathizers on our hands.

Abortion, like guns, is a subject I try to avoid. It brings out the nastiest side of people. As we’ve seen.

November 16, 2005 @ 1:50 am | Comment

“a human sperm fertilizes a human egg the result is a seperate living entity and that entity is fully gentically human.”

A careful selection of words, Conrad. Genetically human, yes. But at that first moment of fertilization, and for a time afterwards, but with no functioning nervous system, heart, lungs… in fact, no differentiated cells at all. At some point is will have all those things, and you could argue that unimpeded it will inevitably be a human being, but at that moment it is neither capable of living independently, feeling or thinking. Potential person, inevitable person, but during the period of gestation when it lacks these things, not a person. There are stages later, when the nervous system develops for instance, when these distinctions break down so much that we can no longer say it is not a person.

These are valid distinctions to keep in mind when comparing it to homicide, which is normally a word applied to independently functioning, thinking, feeling human beings. I’m not saying nothing is lost in an abortion, but high-handed rhetoric about homicide is no better than the preaching of the opposing side. Abortion is an issue that forces extremely difficult questions about being human, being alive and being an individual.

I’d also point out we’re all just a bunch of dudes here, and as such we don’t know how it feels to carry a child, or go through an abortion procedure. And on both counts, I don’t want to.

November 16, 2005 @ 1:56 am | Comment

I’d also point out we’re all just a bunch of dudes here, and as such we don’t know how it feels to carry a child, or go through an abortion procedure. And on both counts, I don’t want to.

An important point, Dave. You can trust me on this one: If men were the ones bearing the children, they’d change their tune fast. Let’s say our virginal friend Conrad had a wild night of drunken sex (hard to imagine, but bear with me) and found out his little indiscretion was going to result in nine months of carrying around a steadily growing fetus followed by the pains of delivery followed by a life of being chained to an unwanted baby. Would he so willingly give up his liberties and his future or might he not seek an alternative, like simply swallowing a pill? I can’t speak for Conrad of course, but I’m going to do it anyway: Hell no, he’d be reaching for the bottle of pills, and fast. Just my opinion.

November 16, 2005 @ 2:04 am | Comment

I couldn’t agree with you more, Richard.
It is very easy to spread great rhetoric about anti-conception and abortion, but what about the child in the end ? The child that was never wanted. Ask anyone on this board if he / she would like to be the one that is not wanted by it’s own parents, if she, like in China, would like to be the child that gets “Lai Di” as first name. Oh, and it is easy to say that people are responsible for the deeds they do, so if they have sex and conceive a baby, they should just face the fact. Well let us all face the fact as well that people do make mistakes, that products do have their flaws and that our human race has developped to a stage where in some cases we can do something about it. We are tiptoeing a thin ethical line, I agree, but anyone of us, if faced with the facts will choose for the least of two “evils”.

Further, I think people are still launching remarks that I consider good laughingstock. Hearing statements like the one from Sean: “A deparment store should be allowed to let an employee discourage people from buying Nike because of their child-labor sweatshops (another of richard’s Bad Things)” : what does that say of the department store ? Cashing in on childs labour while highjacking the conscience of an employee to make your store seem holier than the pope ? This stuff just makes ME sick.

November 16, 2005 @ 6:06 am | Comment


Abortion is a bigger boon to men than it is to women. Abortion allows sex, including promicuous sex, without one of the major the consequences. Men as a whole are, always have been and always will be more interested in guilt free, promiscuous sex than women. Sex without responsibility is far more likely to be a man’s ideal than a woman’s.

Furthermore, you are again making unwarranted assumptions about my personal views — I never said that I thought that birth control pills were immoral. I said that the pharamacists about whom we were speaking sincerely believe it.

I can defend the pharmacists, just as the ACLU can defend the Skokie Nazis, without subscribing to their views.

Finally, Richard, I don’t accept your premise that a man’s opinion regarding abortion is less valuable than a woman’s, however, if you really want to debate about who has a sufficient stake in the subject to credibly argue about abortion, I think you’ll have to agree that, by your standards, gay men — who risk neither carrying nor fathering a child — would come in at the very bottom of that list.

November 16, 2005 @ 6:30 am | Comment

Conrad, what do you have to say about the loophole for rape and ince$t? Why can we “murder” those “lives” if life begins at conception? I’m really curious. (Be sure to use the $ when you writeince$t.)

November 16, 2005 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Richard writes:

“A majority of Americans believe in a woman’s right to abortion.”

It ain’t nearly that simple my friend. Let’s look at the polls:

Los Angeles Times Poll of 14-01-2005:

41% favored making abortion illegal with a few exceptions.

24% favored making abortion always legal

19% favored making abortion legal most of the time.

12% favored making abortion totally illegal.

That’s 53% in favor of restrictions and against current US abortion laws.

CBS News Poll of 21-03-2005:

37% favor stricter limits.

35% favor general availability.

25% favor no abortion access.

That’s 62% in favor of greater restrictions and against current US abortion laws.

Washington Post / ABC News poll of 03-10-2004:

“Do you find abortion when the life of the mother is NOT in danger acceptable or unacceptable”

58% unacceptable

39% acceptable

3% don’t know.

That’s 58% against abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger.

So, while I will concede that a majority of Americans do not want to see abortion completely outlawed, the fact is that a majority of the American people do not favor the ready availability of abortion that current law allows and want increased restrictions.

November 16, 2005 @ 6:50 am | Comment

I dunno. Those number tell me most Americans don’t think my viewpoint is that extreme or murderous. They certainly don’t support Sean’s viewpoint.

Got to go. Save time and concede that I am totally right. Thanks.

November 16, 2005 @ 6:54 am | Comment


To answer your question, I do not believe that abortion is acceptable in cases of rape or ince$t, for exactly the reasons that you point out.

I beleive that most of the pro life people who would permit such an exception do so out of understandable political expediency. They realize that such a law will not pass and they are not willing to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

November 16, 2005 @ 6:55 am | Comment

Sorry Iichard, I screwed the pooch and typed your name under sender.

The above outrageous, rightwing, patriarchal views are mine and not Richard’s.

November 16, 2005 @ 7:02 am | Comment

Goddamn it conrad, all of the analogies you use are nearly as dumb as the bunny killing one.

The Baseball bat analogy is stupid because the guy is going to commit a crime (i.e. it is against the law, abortion is not)

The pregnant woman getting a drink has a noticably pregnant baby (not the same situation as someone aborting a baby). Also excessive drinking has been shown to cause birth defects, this is not a value judgement.

Abortion is not illegal and subjective as we have seen from the conversation here. Do you want employees applying value judgements to all your purchases? For example; chemists in malaysia refusing to sell you condoms because you are off to bone one of the natives? It is a slippery slope.

November 16, 2005 @ 5:04 pm | Comment


Your analogy doesn’t work. I always bring my own condoms, the native variety being to far too small for my large western equipment.

Seriously though, here’s another analogy, since you don’t like my previous ones — you work for a chemical distributor in Nazi Germany. Adolph Eichman places an order for Zyklon B to be shipped to Auschwitz. Not only is gassing Jews not illegal, it’s the official government policy.

Do you make the sale?

Or, you own the chemical company. Your employee refuses to make the sale. Do you fire him?

November 16, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Dammit, I’ve done it again. The above comments are mine and not Bezz’s. I mistakenly typed his name in the sender box

November 16, 2005 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

These analogies, comparing abortion to gassing Jews…. It’s crazy. This is why I try to steer clear of all debates on guns and abortion and religion. There is no sanity. Conrad would actually deny the rape victim her right to an abortion, forcing her to mother the child of the monster who destroyed her life. Luckily, on this score I can safely say the vast majority of Americans strongly disagree. I don’t have survey statistics, but I do know the rape-ince$t exception is a necessity in all legislation, indicating the bills don’t stand a chance without it. And for damned good reason. Ask most American women what they think of the idea of being forced to bear the child of their rapist or their deranged brother or father. Maybe in Saudi Arabia, but not in America.

November 16, 2005 @ 8:29 pm | Comment


This is what you do not understand, to many ardent pro-lifers, legalized abortion is very very much like the Holocaust — the state sanctioned killing of millions of innocent human beings.

You don’t share their view, but your inability to understand where they are sincerely coming from is unfortunate.

I think that the PETA crowd are misguided, but I understand that they are sincere and, that if one accepts their premise, that all animal life is as valuable as a human’s, then their conclusion is correct.

Same for the pro-lifers. They are very sincere and, if human life begins at conception, their conclusion is hard to avoid.

The vast majority of Americans thought that the abolitionists were extremist crackpots. John Brown was the Eric Rudolph of his day. Who knows how the abortion debates will be viewed in 100 years?

November 16, 2005 @ 9:17 pm | Comment

to many ardent pro-lifers, legalized abortion is very very much like the Holocaust

I really, really do understand that there is a relatively small group that feels killing a fertilized egg or unborn fetus is comparable to the holocaust. And I even understand it do a degree; no one savors the idea of terminating a fetus. It’s the absolute worst choice, but sometimes it has to be made and women, I believe, should have their right to choose. We both know where we stand on this and no need for further debate.

But as you acknowledge, those who compare it to the Holocaust are indeed seen as crackpots, and i don’t believe they will ever be mainstream, especially when psychos like Randall Terry and creeps like James Dobson are leading them. They are marginal and they will stay that way because they are religious fanatics determined to impose their values on a people that traditionally chooses to do its own thinking, free of religious pressures.

November 16, 2005 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

lol touché conrad I have heard of this size problem before… but

With the holocaust analogy I agree fully with richard, and remember what sean said before about it being a zygote with 90% chance of termination anyway. You are comparing a zygote, with a self realizing human being. For the holocaust analogy to work you would have to equate yourself with a zygote.

There are people that belive in all sorts of crazy stuff but that doesn’t mean they are not completely misguided as you pointed out with PETA. Holy shit imagine if PETA had the same influence as the pro-lifers. Being sincere doesn’t mean you are right or you should be allowed to push your agenda on others.

Why should we pay attention to religious fools? It has certainly paid off in the past to disregard religion when considering science.

November 17, 2005 @ 4:39 pm | Comment


You guys just don’t get it.

First, it is not the pro-life pharmacists pushing their agenda on anyone else. Target will still sell contraceptives. Women will still buy contraceptives. It’s just that Target has agreed not to compel the pharamcists with moral qualms from participating in the transaction.

Indeed, it is you who seek to impose your views on others, specifically the pharmacists (sell or be fired) and Target (make your employees do this).

Second, it doesn’t matter if the pharmacists are right or wrong in their beliefs, only that they are sincere. Personally, I think Hinduism is a preposterous religion, but that doesn;’t give me the right to make devout Hindus sell me beef.

November 17, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

If the Hindu is selling beef but refuses to sell it to you — that’s what I’m talking about.

November 18, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment

If a pharmacist cannot do his/her job by filling a prescription that a doctor has determined is needed for the health of a patient, then perhaps that pharmacist needs to consider a different profession.

I’m not even going to discuss cows.

November 18, 2005 @ 12:30 am | Comment


Are you really saying that you would compel a devout Hindu to sell you beef (which is a serious sin under his religion) or be fired from his job.

You would force a person to choose between his conscience and his livelihood, despite the fact that you can but beef myriad other places with minimal inconvenience?

That’s disgraceful. Truely one of the most selfish things I have ever heard. It’s so appalling that I cannot believe that you really mean it.

November 18, 2005 @ 12:40 am | Comment


Seems this discussion is still ongoing so I thought I throw in another five cents of mine. I don’t know where the Hindu thing is coming from, but if he has beef on sale, but refuses to sell it, then something is definitely wrong. You don’t just land up in a place, it is a choice one has made. The Hindu that chooses to work into a butchery or the meat department of a store has to take responsability for his choice, and the store is committing a grave error by employing the guy in a department from which they should have known that it goes counter his religious beliefs.

November 18, 2005 @ 5:20 am | Comment

Lao Lu, Conrad appears to dense to get this simple point: If you are a Hindu and you refuse to sell beef, you have no business working behind a meat counter. Period.

November 18, 2005 @ 5:53 am | Comment

Just as if you are a pharmaci1st, and you refuse to fulfill prescript1ons needed by a patient and prescribed by a doctor, you have no business working at a pharm@cy. Period.

November 18, 2005 @ 10:19 am | Comment

Well all of the 50 state licensing boards, as well as the owner of the ph@rmacies in question, say you are wrong. Furthermore, Target’s policy follows recommendations made by the American Ph@rmacists Association.

Another hypothetical:

John, a devout Catholic, owns a local ph@rmacy. Because of his convictions he refuses to stock birth control at all.

Should John’s license be revoked and his business shut down?

If not, is it the fact that John owns the business that makes the difference?

If it is, then how is the decision by the owners of Target entitled to less respect.

By the way Richard, when Rev. Whitman comes to your PR agency and demands that you do the public relations for his nasty band of gay baiters, I assume you will sign him on, or get out of the business?

Because, as in a butcher shop and a ph@rmacy, someone who isn’t willing to provide the PR services requested by their customers has no business working at a PR agency, right?

If you would close John down then, by the same logic, Muslim owned restaurants can be forced to sell alcohol, Jewish owned restaurants pork and Hindu owned restaurants beef.

By all means, let’s use the power of the state to force people to choose between bankruptcy and their convictions in order to spare you folks the inconvenience of having to walk next door.

November 18, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

All of these arguments are just bashing other people’s beliefs. Some women may believe in abortion. Fine. Others may not. Also fine. I think it would be helpful for you to find other interests or better ways to spend your time rather than disagreeing on the fundamental beliefs of others.

May 9, 2006 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.