Although he is the third-generation owner of his family-run pharmacy, pharmacist Mike Koelzer runs the business somewhat differently than his forefathers.In 2002, Kay Pharmacy in Grand Rapids, Michigan made a public decision to longer sell any form of contraceptives, including birth control and condoms.
Koelzer told Faithandconscience.com that his reasons for eliminating birth control can be traced directly to the literature found on the insert in most oral contraceptive boxes.
“It came down to God’s teaching through the Catholic Church on the sanctity of all human life and on contraception. The Church teaches that all contraception is intrinsically evil. But, there is yet a further problem with hormonal contraceptives in how they work, which is sometimes killing a newly formed life,” Koelzer related.
“It is the third mechanism of action (the alteration in the endometrium which reduces the likelihood of implantation), which can kill a newly formed member of the human family by not allowing the new life to attach to the mother’s uterus.”
For a time, Koelzer tried to sell contraceptives to only those clients who required them for non-birth control reasons, but he found the process of questioning clients upon purchase to be too strenuous on both his staff and on his clientele. Furthermore, Koelzer reasoned that the group in question only accounted for 10-15% of his birth control prescriptions.
Upon finalizing his decision after “many months of prayer”, Koelzer notified his employees and his clientele with a letter simply stating that the pharmacy would no longer be selling any form of contraceptives.
“Staying close to my focus, I did not go into reasons in the letter but welcomed any questions they may have regarding the new policy,” Koelzer explained.
Critics have been quick to question Koelzer’s decision to eliminate all forms of birth control but to continue to dispense Viagra and other prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction. To these, however, Mr. Koelzer has replied:
“The answer is pretty simple in my mind. [Viagra and other such drugs] help a natural process – they increase a natural process, whereas the birth control pill and other forms of contraception stop a natural process from happening.”
Although in the past individual pharmacists in the US have refused to dispense birth control personally, Kay Pharmacy is the first privately-owned pharmacy to completely pull-out of the birth control business.
While Michigan has no law barring the refusal to dispense birth control as of yet, already California, New Jersey and Illinois have developed legislation making it mandatory for all pharmacies to fill all birth control prescriptions.
Mr. Koelzer stated that his decision was a long time in the making and that despite the negative reactions outweighing the positive ones, he said that God was asking Him “to take His hand and jump.”
“I had to get a clear picture of just what I thought God wanted me to accomplish. I had many options here. I could have chosen to convince everyone to be pro-life, I could have chosen to try to get every customer to agree with my decision, I could have chosen to teach every customer about the beauty of natural law, I could have chosen to convince everyone about the infallibility of the Catholic Church when it teaches on morality, but what I found I really needed to do was to stop selling the contraceptives.”
To send Mr.Koelzer a message of support:
To see video clip of recent coverage on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson
Pharmacists for Life website: