Opinion » Bill Cope

Self-Conscience

Alternative title: RU-486 'R' Us

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Let's say you're one of the lucky few who still has some cash lying around, and you don't know what to do with it. The Dow Jones continues to look like a leaky canoe in a Chinese typhoon, so you don't feel confident about buying up any blue chips just yet. You were thinking about ordering some Krugerrands and locking them up in your gun safe, but then gold went to a cool K an ounce, and you're pretty sure the idea is to "buy low, sell high"—not the other way around. (Besides, you've filled the gun safe up with .22 shells because you heard from your barber that part of President Barack Obama's stimulus package is to replace America's ammo factories with re-education centers for kids, so there's no room for the Krugerrands anyway.)

You even went so far as to bid on a Tiffany lamp on eBay, and you were dreaming of the day you'd wander into Antiques Roadshow and find out this baby was worth, like, 1,000 times what you paid for it. That was until you learned the lamp was made by Jimmy Tiffany, a retired guy from Indiana who buys regular lamps at Home Depot, then glues bird feathers and fish scales to the shades before giving them away as Christmas gifts. Good thing you were out-bid, huh?

But sadly, you still have that wad of cash lying around, not making you a dime.

Well brother, I think we can work something out. Understand, normally I'd be no more inclined to start a chain store franchise than I'd be to take up bull riding, but thanks to our good old legislature boys—in particular, Rep. Tom Loertscher, an "R" from the spud patch of Iona—I have come up with a business model that can't fail. And I'm looking for investors. If I can put together enough capital, I plan to open up outlets in three or four Eastern Idaho burgs and spread out from there. I already have a name picked out: Conscience-Free Willy's.

And what will I (or should I say "we," eh, partner?) be selling? What is our—as we say in the business sector—"niche?"

Drum roll, please: we will be selling everything that somebody else in town decided they could not, in good conscience, sell—starting with birth control. Lots and lots of birth control. Birth control will be to Conscience-Free Willy's what lattes are to Moxie Java. What dog food is to Zamzows. What cigars are to Hannifin's. Birth control will be our meat and potatoes. Our bread and butter. Whatever.

We'll have everything from condoms to the morning-after pill. In Willy's, you'll be able to pick up IUDs in any color that fits your fancy, cervical caps with kittens painted on them—if that's what you want—and contraceptive foam in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. Our motto: "If a woman doesn't want to get pregnant, we're here to make damn sure she doesn't."

And the best part is, you'll never have to worry about one of our "sales associates" refusing to sell whatever you came to buy because it goes against his conscience. No ma'am, that won't be a problem. You see, my very first business decision is to contract with Family Planning to screen the applicants and conduct the interviews. And if a job seeker looks the least bit uncomfortable answering questions with a portrait of Margaret Sanger staring him in the face, then ... well ... don't call us; we'll call you. Get the picture?

As I said, we have Rep. Loertscher to thank for my sudden interest in entrepreneurship. Mr. Loertscher brought a bill to this year's state Legislature that would protect a pharmacist from any consequences for declining to sell whatever he determines is contrary to the dictates of his conscience. If and when this bill (HB 216) is made law—it has already passed the House and will likely have cleared the Senate by the time you read this—no pharmacist in Idaho can be penalized for declining to distribute Xanax or Coumadin or Cialis or even penicillin, should his conscience tell him it's wrong.

Of course, it's not likely many pharmacists will refuse to sell Coumadin or Xanax, isn't it? I mean, isn't that the business they chose to be in? ... doling out drugs, regardless of whether those drugs are good for human beings or not? No, everyone knows this bill is meant to protect pharmacists who have an objection to those pharmaceuticals related to reproduction—or more accurately, the prevention thereof. And who knew that there were so many poor, beleaguered druggists being forced to disperse contraceptives to hordes of uppity sluts who have decided having 10 or 20 kids wasn't for them?

Now listen, there are those who scorn Mr. Loertscher's bill as having less to do with an individual's conscience than it has to do with one overly zealous segment of our society trying to enforce their sense of morality on everyone else. That it is, at heart, just one more of those back-door maneuvers the pious right use to get the rest of us to either behave ourselves or have a baby to raise as punishment.

I can even imagine that in some places—Eastern Idaho comes to mind—there are pharmacists who hadn't actually realized that their consciences were telling them they shouldn't be selling birth control, not until their local religious authorities told them what their consciences should be telling them.

Still, I do believe people should listen to their consciences more, which is exactly why I'm doing this. Just as some people's consciences are telling them birth control is wrong, my conscience is telling me that any woman who chooses it, should have it. Hence ... Conscience-Free Willy's.

Of course, it's not realistic to think a retail establishment can get by on birth control sales alone. But the way I see it, if this bill gets all the way to the governor's approval pen—and it will—there will be plenty of other conscience-stricken souls who decide they need a pass for refusing to sell something—even if they're in the business of selling exactly that which offends them.

So in short order, you may expect Conscience-Free Willy's to stock beer, wine, sexy underwear, pornography, lottery tickets, cigarettes, gay marriage licenses ... anything that the choir boys in other stores feel they are too good to dirty their hands with. Our main staple will always be birth control, though, for all those women whose consciences are telling them when, where, how or if to be a mother.

(At another time, I will write about where you can send your checks, and to whom to make them out. And fear not for your money. I've done a lot of rotten things in my life, but running a Ponzi scheme is not one of them.)