The Drugstore War

After Idalia and Jose Moran's son was born by C-section, Idalia Moran's doctor advised her not to get pregnant again for two to three years, and prescribed the pill.

CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports when she went to the pharmacy, the cashier said, "You know what? I cannot refill them because the pharmacist says it's against his religion because it's abortion."

she was stunned and ashamed.

"I felt really bad, because I thought maybe these are for abortion," Moran said. "I don't know."

Across the country, more and more pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for religious reasons.

South Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi even have refusal clauses on the books. And 13 other states are considering mixing medicine with morality.

At Lloyd's Pharmacy in Gray, La., Lloyd Duplantis believes in prayer.

"God bless the great state of Louisiana, the parish…In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit…" Duplantis said in a makeshift prayer group in the middle of his store.

And he believes birth control is tantamount to abortion. So, he stocks his shelves accordingly.

"I don't sell condoms. I don't sell foams. I don't sell creams," Duplantis said. "I don't sell anything to do with contraception."

He said, even if a woman who was the victim of incestuous rape walked in his door after having been prescribed the pill, he wouldn't change his policy.

"I would tell her that I can't prescribe this," Duplantis said.

Few question a pharmacist's right to make a moral choice. But doesn't one have a distinct responsibility as a pharmacist?

"That's right, and that's what I'm doing," Duplantis said. "There's science supporting my moral decision."

Four out of five Americans disagree with Duplantis. In /New York Times poll, 80 percent of respondents said even if pharmacists have religious objections to contraceptives, they should not let it interfere with their job.

Just 16 percent think pharmacists should refuse to dispense birth control pills on religious grounds if they choose.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, believes the surge in these cases is as much about politics as it is about religion.

"It's a very ominous trend," Feldt said. "I think the anti-choice right extremists have become emboldened by the current administration in Washington and they feel they are in the political ascendancy."

But Duplantis says he's no extremist, just a Christian businessman.

"I want everyone to have freedom of choice to help them achieve what they want," he said.

In his pharmacy, he advocates "natural" family planning. He convinced one woman, Stephanie Melacon, to no longer takes birth control pills. She made the decision based on what Duplantis told her about the side effects.

As for Idalia Moran, she eventually got her birth control pills. But she had to drive 30 miles to a different pharmacist.

"Being a pharmacist…you should leave your religion or whatever aside," Moran said.

It's one debate that will not be put aside quietly.

  • Christine Lagorio

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