I started tweeting. I’m still not really sure how Twitter works or who I’m supposed to “follow,” but I’ve tweeted. One of the only productive things to have come from it so far is that I found this article about a federal court decision that makes pharmacists carry and distribute Plan B, the morning after pill, even if they are morally opposed to it.

Personally, I think this is great. Growing up in NJ and going to school in MA, I feel like I’ve been spoiled as far as having liberal rights on the books to protect people. (Fun fact: Even in the ultra conservative, white suburban town where I grew up in NJ, a transsexual teacher got to keep her job at the public school after the transition to female, despite parent protests, because NJ has laws protecting all gender identities. Go Jerz!)

As anyone from my college would know (and just anyone who knows me in general), I am a huge proponent of the First Amendment. Especially living in Tunisia where the people do not have freedom of expression, I’ve truly learned to appreciate my rights. I even wrote about it a few weeks ago. Part of the First Amendment is the right to freedom of religion, and while not a religious person myself, I will fight for this right as well. One of the main objections to forcing pharmacists to dispense Plan B is that it violates their right to practice their religion freely, because they morally object to the medication since they think it is equivalent to an abortion.

While I certainly disagree that taking Plan B is in any way comparable to the emotional stress of having an abortion, I also disagree that these pharmacists are being denied their First Amendment rights. Freedom of religion means that they are allowed to have their faith and practice it. They’re allowed to have churches, synagogues, mosques, or whatever other type of building they want in order to practice their faith as a religious community, as well as in the privacy of their own home. Heck, they’re even allowed to try to convert people on the streets and preach on soap boxes so long as they’re not breaking solicitation laws.

Let’s say my religion requires me to pray in the middle of the day, when I happen to be at work. My boss is required by the Constitution to allow me to take 5 minutes to say that prayer. However, my boss does have the right to tell me, “Please go into the break room to pray, and not shout your prayer in the middle of the store or office and disrupt the customers and other workers.” If, however, my religion required me to pray for 5 hours in the middle of the day, my boss would not be required to pay me for that time. I would not take a job where I needed to work during those 5 hours, but would instead find a way to make an income that was more accommodating to my lifestyle.

That being said, I would also not work at an abortion clinic if I was morally opposed to abortion. Nor would I work at a research lab that did stem cell research if I were opposed to that. Certain jobs require certain tasks that not everyone will agree to. If a pharmacist is morally opposed to dispensing certain drugs, then they should not be a pharmacist. If they have medical reasons for opposing a drug, such as a possible interaction with other medications, then that’s a different story. However, freedom of religion does not mean freedom to force that religion upon someone else, which is exactly what these pharmacists are doing when they refuse women Plan B, or even birth control. Just as I had the freedom to print what I wanted in my school newspaper, I did not have the right to force people to read or to agree with what was printed.

Freedom of expression is extremely important in any civilized society, as people cannot truly be free without the right to express themselves. (I’m not saying that countries that don’t have such freedoms are necessarily uncivilized, but no government is perfect.) While pharmacists have the right to personally not take Plan B or birth control, they do NOT have the right to choose whether a woman should become pregnant or not; only she has that right.