Target has a new pharmaceutical policy: They stock emergency contraception (EC), but pharmacists who object to EC on religious grounds can refuse to sell it to you. And they won’t lose their jobs for, y’know, not doing their jobs.
America Blog and Dan Savage blast Target for inserting “red state” politics into their store policies. America Blog says Target is falsely reinterpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Savage even dubs this an issue “straight rights” and urges heteros to stand up and defend themselves.
They’re wrong. Or rather, they’re right, but they’re blaming the wrong institution. Target is rationally responding to a sorry state of legal affairs. Whether America Blog agrees with the reasoning or not, the Civil Rights Act does prohibit religious discrimination in employment, and what that really means is up for grabs. If you’re Target, these are your options:
1. Refuse to stock EC, lose the potential sales, and get accused by the left of kowtowing to the religious right.
2. Stock EC, require your pharmacists to sell it, and run the risk of getting sued on grounds of religious discrimination by the pharmacists you fire for not selling it. Suffer huge legal expenses even if you win.
3. Stock EC, but don’t require pharmacists to sell it. Hopefully, customers will wait for another pharmacist to come on duty.
Naturally, Target has taken door #3. And it’s pretty darn silly. It discriminates against customers randomly, based on whether the pharmacist on duty happens to be a religious nut. But the other options are no better. Target’s choice doesn’t reflect evil red-state politics – it represents an attempt to steer between the Scylla of leftwing excoriation and the Charybdis of frivolous lawsuits.