The Roman Catholic Church has given its blessing to one of the few pro-life drug stores in the country. So much so that the patron saint of pharmacists is on display at the pharmacy, which is located in a Chantilly, Virginia shopping center.
The new Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy refuses to sell any type of birth control or contraceptives, cigarettes or pornographic magazines. However, booklets on family planning are available.
The pharmacy is part of a Catholic non-profit that also operates a pro-life ob-gyn practice near Fairfax.
"Birth control is not health care," said Robert Laird, the DMC's executive director. "We are catering to a special niche of people who like the pro-life message in their business."
The pharmacy is located within a few miles of four large Catholic parishes with the number of Catholics estimated to be near 50,000.
"In the pharmacy business," Mr. Laird said, "you don't normally go more than two miles from your drugstore, but people are going to be coming from miles to come here."
Catholic teachings forbid the use of any kind of artificial birth control. All of the pharmacy's board members are of the Catholic faith.
But should pro-life drug stores like the DMC Pharmacy be required to fill contraceptive prescriptions? That's the debate over the rights of pharmacists against a marketplace seeking birth control products.
Virginia does not have any laws requiring pharmacies to sell contraceptives. However, nine other states, including Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, have passed legislation that requires pharmacists to fill prescriptions or direct customers elsewhere.
Karen Brauer, head of Pharmacists for Life International, said "thousands" of pharmacies nationwide do not stock the morning-after pill because it can be an abortifacient. The organization's Web site lists six pharmacies that sell no artificial contraception of any sort.
"The birth-control pill has gained a social importance above a lot of other drugs that are more important to save lives," she said. "There is a bunch of drugs that women need that pharmacists don't carry. This is the only drug pharmacists are forced to order in. Other than antidotes, pharmacies are not required to stock anything."
NARAL Pro-Choice America's Virginia chapter has posted a statement on its Web site saying, "Birth control is basic health care for women" and has called for a boycott of the DMC store. "A pharmacy that doesn't respect your choices doesn't deserve your business," the statement on its Website read.
Dr. John T. Bruchalski, is the president and chairman of the board of DMC.
"It won't be just a Catholic pharmacy," he said. "It's trying to build a culture of life. We want to let the market decide if we are worthy of support and trust and not anyone's social agenda. I believe there are a significant number of people who have tolerated this slowly encroaching culture of brokenness," Dr. Bruchalski continued. "When given an option, they will actually choose something other."
Sources: CBN News, The Washington Times