Pharmacist discusses anti-abortion issues, concerns
Woman advocates students follow beliefs

by Heather Murphy
Indiana Daily Student
March 28, 2001

About 15 people gathered in Ballantine Hall Monday to hear Karen Brauer speak on behalf of the anti-abortion movement. Brauer is president of Pharmacists for Life, an organization that believes life begins at conception and ends at natural death.

Brauer was fired from Kmart four years ago for refusing to dispense progestin-only birth control.

Progestin-only birth control prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, Brauer said. This class of drugs (as well as others, such as Previn -- known as the "morning after pill") is referred to by abortion opponents as an abortifacient.

"In the event that breakthrough ovulation does occur, abortifacient birth control prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and it discards the egg from the body," said senior Sarah McHone, president of IU Students for Life. Students for Life sponsored Brauer's speech.

The nine men and six women present participated in a question and answer session with Brauer. Among their main concerns was the issue of informed consent.

Brauer said women are not given a fair explanation of how their birth control works, pointing out that the doctor and patient inserts in birth control kits contain two different sets of information.

"It's been a crime to think women shouldn't have to worry their pretty little heads about how their medicine works," she said.

Brauer cited information from the doctor's insert, that hormonal birth control prevents ovulation only 50 percent of the time -- the other 45-50 percent, it prevents implantation. Brauer said that many doctors do not share this information with women, and that this is a violation of their right to informed consent.

"When a woman takes birth control," Brauer said, "she is profoundly affecting her entire body, treating something that really isn't wrong."

Because of these beliefs, Brauer said she was fired from her job as a pharmacist at Kmart in Hamilton, Ohio. Brauer maintains that in Ohio, a pharmacist has the right to refuse to dispense any drug for any reason because they are liable for their decisions. She said the pharmacy was refusing to sell diet pills at the time because of an abuse problem in the area, and no one had a problem with it.

Although Brauer said she was dismayed by the circumstances surrounding her dismissal, she said she believes she's in pharmacy for a reason -- to encourage people to stand up for what they believe.

Besides her anti-abortion message, she emphasized another point Monday -- if an employer ever asks you to do something that goes against your beliefs, you don't have to do it.

While the discussion sometimes took a philosophical turn, the issues were confined mainly to the political and the scientific.

Although many members, such as practicing Catholic Jim Poeppelman, a junior, said they have religious grounds for their beliefs, that is not their only motivation.

"The issue is not primarily religious," he said. "The Constitution gives the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"When we have uncertainty about when life begins," McHone said, "it is important that we give the benefit of the doubt to the fetus."