Snyder Drug Store

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Our modest little Snyder Drug Store – home to the retro-cool 50s-style soda fountain – is getting an awful lot of publicity this week, thanks to the decision by the owners of the drugstore to not carry birth-control pills (aka oral contraceptives).

Snyder Drug Store in Great Falls, Montana

The decision is causing quite a stir in the blogosphere, even reaching the Hit-n-Run section of Reason magazine.
I (sort of) understand why the “pro-choice” people are upset about this, and I (sort of) also understand the position of the owners. But what it comes down to, in this case, is that this is a decision by the owners of the drugstore. It is THEIR business, and they should be able to sell – or not – whatever products they want to. Do I agree with the “pro-choicers” or the “pro-lifers” on the ethics of selling birth-control pills? Doesn’t matter…my opinion about the morality of BC pills or the people that use them is not what this issue is about, for me: the real right at stake here is that of a business owner to own and run his business.

UPDATE, Sunday morning: the Tribune has an article on the subject. And GeeGuy offers some perspective on the issue, including insight on the owners of Snyder Drug – friends of his – and the legal issues of this (increasingly) manufactured controversy.

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49 Comments

  1. Dave, I respectfully disagree that this is purely an issue of a business owners right to sell what they want. You see, pharmacies are licensed by the state to distribute medication that is prescribed by a doctor that is licensed to to do so.

    At what point does it become ‘okay’ for a pharmacy to decide if a medication is morally ‘okay’ according to their own religion and ‘okay’ for a woman’s health? Shouldn’t the patient decide their own morality and the doctor and patient decide about the risks involved together? Isn’t a pharmacy part of a healthcare chain instead of being part of the morality police?

    I understand and appreciate what you are saying here. If what you say is true, perhaps it is a valid argument to move pharmacy distribution out of the private sector so that they will serve the interest of public healthcare as opposed to their own moral agenda.

  2. Whatever happened to celebrating diversity? The pro-centraception folks are upset that Great Falls is only 88% compliant with their world view!

    Diversity is apparently all well and good …until you disagree.

  3. Mason Jar, lets see..licensed by the state so they have to SELL customers what the customer wants. How about Missoula wanting peace officers to NOT enforce the laws pertaining to, apparently, your drug of choice, Mary Jane? But I’m sure you can not see the connection through your haze. You and your ilk will have a reason to diverge.

  4. No, Dave, the REAL right at stake here is that of a woman to own and run her body.

    Let’s remember that it hasn’t been all that long since WOMEN were property. Throughout much of history we’ve had about the same legal status as cattle.

    These anti-abortion, anti-birth control tactics are part and parcel of ongoing attempts to control women’s reproductive choices and thus, their lives.

    Please try to put yourself in our shoes — if YOU were denied an important prescription that helped you control your destiny, would you not be offended? Particularly if it was part of a larger, 2,000+ year effort to deny you and your gender self-determination?

  5. Well good for Snyder Drug…

    Moral agenda or not….. the bottom line is “Rights”… right?…. so let them have the right to choose as they please.

    I mean, afterall, we allow a woman to “terminate” a pregnancy don’t we??…. it’s her “Right”…. and because it is her “Right”…. who are we to argue the point…..

    Arguing the point about Snyder Drug’s choice to either sell birth control pills or not is about the same as arguing the point on a womans right to terminate a pregnancy…. doncha think??

  6. Wow. How upset can you get over a drug whose main purpose is to allow indiscriminate sex. I’m all for free love but you won’t find me beating my chest over my right to force others to help me in my efforts to have consequence free sex. Mainly because I don’t think it would get me anywhere. Try a box of condoms from Snyder Drug, Patia or go to a different store and quit making mountains out of mole hills.

  7. I’m just sort of astounded that there are still people out there who think that disallowing birth control is a good thing. Would the folks at Snyder Drug rather a young woman prevent a pregnancy, or end up with an unwanted pregnancy and an abortion?

    For the record: I am anti-abortion. Notice how I don’t say “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, because honestly I don’t consider myself neither. I hate the idea of abortion, and I do not think that it is necessary in 99% of circumstances. But I don’t want the government taking away anybody’s right to it either.

    I hope that Snyder Drug reconsiders, or I could see them losing business over this. I never got my prescriptions there, but I have stopped in on occasion. I won’t be supporting them anymore.

  8. Wolfpack, what you have said here demonstrates the very reason that people are so up and arms here. Who are you to say what the main point of birth control is and if that is or isn’t OK?

    Wouldn’t you venture to guess that you maybe a married couple would use birth control so that they don’t have a child when they are not ready? Wouldn’t you imagine that a woman might use it to balance hormones? Wouldn’t you imagine that a woman might use it because it can greatly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in high risk situations? Wouldn’t you imagine that a woman might use it who is in a committed long term relationship but just doesn’t want to get pregnant?

    The simple fact is that how a woman and her doctor decides it should be used is up to them and no concern of yours or a pharmacist or drug store owner? You make a lot of assumptions, but they don’t translate in the real world.

  9. Once again this idea of individual rights gets messed up with privilege. Snyder is free to sell candy and Nyquil as they please, but prescription drugs are a different story. Selling them is a license granted by the state and carries with it moral obligations, one of which would be not to interfere with the doctor patient relationship, or to set Snyder up as some sort of superior moral force. What they are doing is presumptuous, meddling, and annoying. I don’t give two shits what Synder thinks about birth control. I don’t go to them for moral advice. Just sell the damned drugs and stay the hell out of peoples lives.

    Christians … sheesh!

  10. It will be wonderful to see legal action taken against this piece of filth for deniying such basic needs as BC.

  11. There were a few typos that I’ve fixed below. The moderator should feel free to delete my earlier comment.

    **

    wolfpack, women use OCP for a range of reasons. According to the Salon.com article about the Snyder Druge incident (which you can read here: http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2007/05/31/birth_control/index.html) one woman denied OCP was “49 years old and unable to conceive, but [who] uses the birth control pills for a medical condition.”

    The condition could be endometriosis or amenorrhea. Less serious conditions for which OCP is used include to regulate periods, to reduce painful cramping, and yes, to prevent pregnancy (often within the confines of a committed, even a married, relationship). OCP is used not solely to justify indiscriminate sexual behavior. However, even if it were, people who have a lot of sex with a lot of different partners are still human beings who deserve medical care and services.

    And by the way, more than 80% of American women use OCP at some point in their lives and more than 98% use some form of artificial birth control. Users of OCP aren’t fringe sluts; they are your mother, your sister, your co-worker, maybe even your partner.

    It isn’t clear to me that the owners of Snyder Drug as pharmacists, but even if they are, who are they to get in between the doctor-patient relationship? We are talking about a legal drug, legally prescribed.
    I don’t live in Great Falls anymore, but I did for a long time. When I read stories like that, and worse when I read responses like these, I honestly can’t imagine moving back.

    Montana is supposed to be libertarian, the last bastion of an old western live and let live mentality. This is appalling, and confirms every stereotype that the coastal elitists have of Montanans.

  12. My earlier tongue-in-cheek trollbait garnered no response –probably reasonably so– but I do still have a point. There are 17 pharmacies in Great Falls. 15 of them follow your world view. You’re outraged that 2 do not, and frame it in terms of denying women freedom of choice. How are women being denied anything if it’s freely available in more than a dozen other places in a small city?

    Would I be offended if I were denied an important prescription that helped me control my destiny? Yes, yes I would –so much so that I’d go get it somewhere else. That’s …choice!

    I’d be right there with you if this were a government move, but it’s not. Choice remains. Freedom of choice does not carry with it an implication that no one else’s choices can be allowed to disagree with yours –only that their choices cannot deny yours. This clearly does not.

    This way, everyone has a choice, and some of you seem quite upset about that.

    And then there’s Mark Tokarski’s invocation of “moral obligation” to the state and a swipe at Christians as a class. Mark, I know quite a few pro-abortion-rights Christians, at least one of whom is a Democratic legislator –but feel free to dismiss ’em all! As for “moral obligations,” who gets to pick what an individual’s moral obligations should be? You seem to be exercised that these religious folks are imposing their moral will on others, but there you are trying to do the same thing to them!

    As for the notion that perhaps they shouldn’t be pharmacists if they’re not willing to do the whole job, what if they became pharmacists before contraception was a widely accepted right? Are you now suggesting they should be drummed out of business because their moral position doesn’t change direction with the wind, as society’s does?

  13. #

    Please try to put yourself in our shoes — if YOU were denied an important prescription that helped you control your destiny, would you not be offended? Particularly if it was part of a larger, 2,000+ year effort to deny you and your gender self-determination?

    Um…I guess I can speak on this. I’ve had to have bc to regulate my periods after the birth of my son. I can honestly say that if one pharmacy doesn’t provide it, I know that there are 10 or more others out there that probably would.

    Just sayin’ is all..
    -Cammy

  14. ajtooley: okay, so let’s accept Snyder Drug’s decision for a moment. What are the possible consequences of this precedent? For one, the community would have trouble denying other businesses that wanted to set prohibitions based on morality.

    So if the owners of Snyder Drug next decide that X racial group are the children of Cain, and hence shouldn’t be served, on what basis would you predicate your disagreement? It is after all a * business * decision.

    And of course this is complicated if we are talking about a pharmacy in a town that doesn’t have other options. Let’s say that the owners of Snyder Drug want to buy a pharmacy somewhere in the High Line in a one pharmacy town. And that they won’t sell birth control or AIDS drugs (because those folks deserve to die for their sin) or whatever other drug they have a moral problem with (Viagra to single men, etc.). What on earth are you going to do about it now? You’ve said that it is acceptable. So what are the folks in Two Dot going to do?

    The issue of insurance further complicates matters. Sure there are 15 other pharmacies in town, but what if Snyder is only one of a handful that accepts your insurance, and the others aren’t convenient? Or you don’t have a car?

    The decision of the owners of Snyder Drug bothers me both because of the reproductive rights issue (again, this is a legal drug, legally proscribed: who are these people to insert themselves into this decision?) and because I worry about the precedent.

    For myself, I wouldn’t want to frequent a pharmacy where the owners have such a delinquent relationship to scientific fact (their decision was based apparently in part on concerns about the side effects of OCP), but that’s just me.

  15. OK, Cammy.

    What about when you move to a small town with only one drugstore? Or when the anti-abortion crowd buys up all the drugstores in the state? The country? Or when your favorite drugstore decides it’s no longer going to fill your kid’s ADD medication? Or your mom’s antidepressants? Or, heck, ANY prescriptions, because maybe they’ve become faith healers?

    I’m speaking hypothetically here, of course, but at what point, exactly, do you start to get upset?

  16. Mason- I guess I’m just stupid but I thought the main use for BC pills was to prevent births which resulted from recreational sex. So much for truth in labeling or is it that you need to argue the margins in order to justify your opinion? Would you be defending Viagra prescriptions the same way or can’t you muster the same sympathy for a flaccid man. If the pills in question were for health only reasons and were not available, I doubt we would be having this debate. My wife and I over time have used BC pills for all reasons stated including recreational sex which doesn’t imply anything about her virtue. If she couldn’t fill her prescription at Snyder she would simply go somewhere else because she is an empowered intelligent woman like Cammy. Any woman who can’t easily figure a way out this problem without the help of the above saviors is too stupid to be having children anyway and definitely needs any medicine that will keep her out of the gene pool. There are real women’s health issues out there; I just don’t think this is one. This is simply a case of religious bigotry by people hiding behind the skirts of the feminist cause. Patia- If you are forced into making your arguments with a pile of hypotheticals in lieu of reality maybe you are only outraged over a manufactured problem.

  17. Honestly Patia, have all the drugstores in one particular state been bought by some anti-abortion group? Do you honestly believe that this could happen? I believe your chances of getting struck by lightning are much higher than that. There are always options out there. If I lived in a small town that refused to sell birth control or any other medication, I’m pretty sure my doctor would contact another pharmacy somewhere in the state where they could ship that stuff to me. It’s not the first time that I’ve personally had to do that, so I don’t see it as a problem.

  18. I’m guessing that if we were talking about guns, y’all would be more likely to understand the concept of precedent.

    As far as women “too stupid” to go elsewhere — what about the 14-year-old girl who doesn’t have a credit card, can’t get mystery packages in the mail at her house, and is limited to whatever pharmacy she can get to without a car?

  19. 14 year old girls ought to be behaving themselves in the first place.

    And, if these BC Pills are supposedly needed for a *known (diagnosed) medical condition, then I’m quite sure that her folks will get her what she needs..

  20. The slopes are getting awfully slippery in here!

    dckatiebug:So if the owners of Snyder Drug next decide that X racial group are the children of Cain, and hence shouldn’t be served, on what basis would you predicate your disagreement? It is after all a * business * decision.

    I’d predicate my disagreement on legal, not emotional, precedent. And legally, pharmacists don’t have to sell every elective product available. Nice smear, by the way; a proper analogy would have them denying one elective product to said children of Cain, but now you’ve gone and made it look like you think Snyder’s bars all women from the premises.

    And of course this is complicated if we are talking about a pharmacy in a town that doesn’t have other options. Let’s say that the owners of Snyder Drug want to buy a pharmacy somewhere in the High Line in a one pharmacy town. And that they won’t sell birth control or AIDS drugs (because those folks deserve to die for their sin) or whatever other drug they have a moral problem with (Viagra to single men, etc.). What on earth are you going to do about it now? You’ve said that it is acceptable. So what are the folks in Two Dot going to do?

    Read my other post. I clearly say that the reason this is a non-issue is because there are so many other choices, and that this decision does not infringe upon the rights of others because of that. The same decision in a one-pharmacy town would infringe, and would (potentially) deny access. A reasonable conclusion would be that my opinion would be different.

    Sure there are 15 other pharmacies in town, but what if Snyder is only one of a handful that accepts your insurance,

    That leaves the rest of the handful…

    and the others aren’t convenient?

    Now you’re talking about convenience?

    Or you don’t have a car?

    And no one else does? And there’s no public transportation? Or sidewalks? Or the US Postal Service? Then we’ve got bigger problems than the beliefs of the owners of the pharmacy!

    The decision of the owners of Snyder Drug bothers me both because of the reproductive rights issue (again, this is a legal drug, legally proscribed: [that’s a funny typo, BTW] who are these people to insert themselves into this decision?) and because I worry about the precedent.

    They’re business owners who by right of offering the service of pharmaceutical preparation insert themselves into doctor-patient decisions all the time, without a peep from you. When your doctor prescribes one medicine and your pharmacist suggests a less expensive generic, do you deride him/her for inserting themselves into the decision-making process?

    In your one-store-town hypothetical, they’re involved in those decisions by just waking up and going to work every day; if they decided that the hassle of dealing with taxes and regulations and shrill internet commentators wasn’t worth it and closed up shop altogether, would you be angrily asking what right they have to make it hard for their customers to get medicine? They have the right to run the store. And you accept that every day, until they make a decision with which you disagree.

    Patia:I’m guessing that if we were talking about guns, y’all would be more likely to understand the concept of precedent.

    That’s a good point. I can buy guns and milk at Wal-Mart, but I can buy only milk at Albertsons. I’m outraged at Albertsons’ infringement of my second amendment rights! Will you set up an internet petition for me?

    As far as women “too stupid” to go elsewhere — what about the 14-year-old girl who doesn’t have a credit card, can’t get mystery packages in the mail at her house, and is limited to whatever pharmacy she can get to without a car?

    And she has no friends! And no legs! And the doctor’s no help at all!

  21. This drug store should have it’s license to sell prescription medication pulled. It’s unethical not to sell birth control.

    The decision to pull birth control from their stock isn’t a moral or religious one, it’s a sexist one. They still prescribe Viagra, to keep the dicks hard, but pull the birth control so these same hard-ons can knock up us women and keep us barefoot in the kitchen, making it more difficult for women to exceed in the workplace and in education. Nice.

  22. 14 year old girls ought to be behaving themselves in the first place.

    Ah, just as I suspected, we’ve come back to the issue of morality. You think it’s perfectly okay for a pharmacist to override a decision made by a woman and her doctor — based on his definition of morality. Well, I don’t. End of story.

    AJ, your arguments are so weak, I hardly know where to start. BIG difference between a pharmacy not selling birth control and Albertsons not selling guns. Also a big difference between a pharmacist refusing to fill a birth control prescription and a pharmacist suggesting a generic.

  23. Patia, the “that’s so weak I don’t even know where to start” argument isn’t an argument at all. Same for the “there’s a BIG difference” bit. And so this response is similarly pointless. So make some real arguments and I’ll make a real response.

    And, for what seems like the umpteenth time, these particular pharmacists aren’t overriding any decision by anyone. They’re simply saying that the person who wants the prescription has to travel a few more blocks. Quell horreur! Quell scandale!

    But in the spirit of hewing to the facts, I’ll point out that something I said in an above post was incorrect. I said there are 17 pharmacies in Great Falls, 15 of which fill contraceptive prescriptions; however, I missed one, and failed to take into account that two more will be opening up within a few weeks. So hold out hope, oppressed women! Relief is in sight!

  24. Patia, why is it that you are offended by the pharmacist’s ‘imposing’ his (or her) morality on the patient, but you apparently have no problem with the patient expecting the pharmicist to abide by the patient’s decision as to what is and is not moral?

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