Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 12, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Arizona Stories: WWII Flyboys


Guests:
  • Bryan Howard - President and C.E.O., Planned Parenthood, central and northern Arizona
  • Ron Johnson - Director, Arizona Catholic Conference


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," the controversy surrounding the so-called morning-after pill. Some call it contraception, some call it abortion. And we meet a man who was one of many young Hispanic men who fought and flew during World War II in tonight's Arizona story. Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." there have been numerous instances around the country in which some pharmacists have refused to dispense the contraceptive Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill. Plan B is not the abortion pill ru-486. It must be taken within hours of unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. One of the most visible examples of pharmacists refusing to dispense the medication occurred in Illinois where state law prohibits a pharmacist from refusing to fill a prescription. Those pharmacists were suspended. Larry Lemmons tells us more about the controversy. [phone ringing]

Susan Niebergall:
Good afternoon. Planned parenthood.

Larry Lemmons:
Susan Niebergall is the center administrator of this Planned Parenthood facility and gets on average five to six requests a day for Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill. She says the most common reason patients cite for needing the Plan B bill is that the condom broke. Planned parenthood lists its information for patients and explains the specifics of emergency contraception. She shows us the paperwork required to be completed by the patient.

Susan Niebergall:
After getting the patient's general information and a general medical consent form, the most important piece of paper that we give to the patient is the informed consent, and this is specific to emergency contraceptive protection. It's best used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. You have up to 120 hours, but 72 is best. And they're given two options of how to take the pill after they decide with the clinician how they want to take it. The clinician will fill in the name of the pill, Plan B, and they should swallow one pill on this one, and on this they should swallow two pills. Patient will sign and will witness, and the patient's given a copy of both sides of this to take with them.

Larry Lemmons:
Plan B uses the same hormone found in regular birth control pills. It prevents pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary or stopping the fertilization of an egg or in some cases prevents an egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It will not affect a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus or an existing pregnancy. But there's one possibility that raises alarm for Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy.

Cathi Herrod:
Morning-after pills can operate in four different ways, one of those ways blocking implantation of a fertilized embryo. That is a living human being in our view that deserves protection and should not be aborted by use of a morning-after pill.

Larry Lemmons:
This position marks the front in the war over Plan B and also part of the larger culture war over the issue of abortion, a war being waged even over the choice of a Supreme Court justice. At this family planning conference earlier this year, participants said there is confusion over Plan B.

Susan Wood:
And I don't know whether it's deliberate or not, this confusion, but I think it's -- but certainly when I've heard spokespeople opposed to emergency contraception come out and say it causes a type of abortion, I have to ask, well, does that mean they're opposed to regular birth control pills, because it is acting through exactly the same mechanism. It's even the same biological mechanism that happens when you're breast-feeding a baby, and you lower your risk of pregnancy, because the same hormone that's in these emergency contraceptive pills is the same hormone that your body is producing that reduces your chance of getting pregnant during breast-feeding. This is contraception. It will not interrupt an established pregnancy. It's very, very safe. And this confusion of it with an abortion pill or that it in and itself mimics an abortion, it's just wrong.

Larry Lemmons:
Susan Woods spoke at this conference. She had served as director of the F.D.A.'s office of women's health before resigning in protest when the F.D.A. rejected the recommendation from their scientific advisors to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter.

Susan Wood:
But what happened there was that there was this continually process that led to delay of a decision when in fact there was pretty much absolute agreement, not only from our external advisory committees who are asked the question, should it be brought over the -- bought over the counter, and voted very strongly that it should, but also every level of the professional staff, from the reviewers who reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents going over the data with a fine-tooth comb to every level of review above them of which there are several, who all agree that this product should be approved over the counter. On August 26, the commissioner announced that the F.D.A. was going to have to go through a bureaucratic regulatory process to develop a regulation on how to implement this idea of having very young teens staying on prescription status and older teens and older women having it available over the counter. This was an idea proposed by F.D.A. over a year before that. Again, over the objections of the professional staff as a way to sort of address some of the concerns that had been raised about young teen access.

Cathi Herrod:
Absolutely you have a 15-year-old girl who could walk in and get morning-after pills without any awareness of any contra indications. We know that birth control pills alone can cause an increase in blood clots, increase in other potential medical complications, and those need to be overseen by medical personnel.

Susan Wood:
This is not about it being safe or effective for young teens. It is. It's safe and effective for young teens and it's very clear. The question raised by F.D.A. was about whether they could understand the label and use it properly. Well, we have never asked that question of any other over-the-counter drug. We don't ask it about very young teens. We don't ask it about the elderly. We don't ask about it who have English as a second language. All those might be good questions, but historically we've just generally asked do people understand it and use it correctly. It's very clear that this product is understood and can be used correctly by the general population who would need to use it, including young teens. So that in fact was a bit of a bogus argument.

Cathi Herrod:
F.D.A. advisory committees have been overruled on other issues as well. It's not that unusual for the F.D.A. to not follow an advisory committee opinion. It's important to note that morning-after pills, because they are a high dosage of birth control pill, for a woman to receive birth control pills, she has a doctor's visit, a prescription, and oversight or supervision by that physician. When you talk about morning-after pills being over the counter, all those safeguards are gone. You're having a woman walk into a pharmacy and being given a morning-after pill without medical supervision. We believe that endangers women's health.

Larry Lemmons:
The center for Arizona policy also supported a bill vetoed by the governor last legislative session. The bill would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception or those aimed at accomplishing an abortion based on moral or religious objection.

Cathi Herrod:
We believe in healthcare workers have a right to have their personal, moral or religious beliefs protected. Current Arizona law says that a doctor or a nurse does not have to participate in an abortion if an abortion violates their personal, moral or religious conscience. We believe pharmacists should be accorded that same right as regards morning-after pills.

Larry Lemmons:
Pharmacists who have such concerns have won some concessions from private companies, providing the policies don't conflict with state law. We contacted a number of companies to determine what their policy is for pharmacists who refuse to provide certain medications. We received these responses. Walgreen's says "we believe it's reasonable to respect the individual pharmacist's beliefs by not requiring them to fill a prescription they object to on moral or religious grounds." They will also arrange to have the prescription filled at a nearby pharmacy if another pharmacist is not on duty. Target says "in the rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for the Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacist to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely or respectful manner either by another target pharmacist or different pharmacy. The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies." Wal-Mart does not sell Plan B. They say for business reasons. Wal-Mart pharmacists may decline to -- pharmacists may decline to fill prescriptions, but must find someone else who will. Another pharmacy says "it is our policy to fill all prescriptions." unlike private companies, planned parenthood has no such concerns and will dispense Plan B to whoever needs it providing certain criteria are met.

Michael Grant:
Costco also responded to our request for a statement of policy. They said the availability of Plan B in stores depends on demand. They say they have no per se written policy on a pharmacist's unwillingness to dispense medication, but will try to work with the pharmacist if such an incident were to occur. Osco did not respond before the show. Joining us to talk about the controversy over Plan B is the President and C.E.O. of Planned Parenthood of central and northern Arizona Bryan Howard and the Arizona director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, Ron Johnson. Gentlemen, good to see you both.

Bryan Howard:
Good to see you.

Michael Grant:
Happy holidays to you. Ron, let me go back to the governor's veto of the rights of conscience bill last session. Stated at least one of the reasons that she vetoed the bill was because it was opposed by groups representing pharmacists, hospitals and nurses. Why do you think those groups opposed the bill?

Ron Johnson:
Well, that's something that perhaps they could speak for themselves. I can tell you for sure that the Arizona Medical Association did remain neutral on it, and there are a lot of other nurses and pharmacists that we hear from that clearly don't take that position. It's our view that even though -- even if it is a majority of people in a certain profession that believe one way or the other that our country was founded on the concepts of religious freedom and civil liberties and that no one should be coerced to violate those. That's why we move this legislation forward.

Michael Grant:
Bryan, what is your experience with that, in terms of how professionals in those professions view each other and view this issue?

Bryan Howard:
Well, one point of clarification. The Arizona Medical Association actually has a formal policy of not taking positions on any issue related to abortion or reproductive health. So their reluctance to take a position has as much to do with their standing policy, as it has to do with this issue in particular. Planned parenthood goes a step further than the governor's veto message. We don't believe it's appropriate for a medical professional to use their moral -- their own personal moral values to overrule, override, a patient's healthcare options. And i might point out, not only the patient's healthcare choice, but also the physician who prescribed the medical profession -- professional who gave that patient the prescription. So the pharmacist isn't only overriding the patient, but he or she is also overriding the person who -- the patient who knows the patient's history. That's inappropriate.

Michael Grant:
So Planned Parenthood would oppose the statute currently on the books, which allows a doctor or nurse to refuse to participate in an abortion.

Bryan Howard:
If you don't want to carry out the -- the full array of your professional responsibilities within your profession, you should pick a different profession. If you don't want to prescribe birth control, then perhaps you'd like to look at being a pharmacist at an Arizona Heart Hospital. Maybe you'd like to look at oncology pharmacy where you're not put in that position. If you don't want to fulfill all your responsibilities, you shouldn't be going into the profession.

Ron Johnson:
I would just argue, all the medications out there for pharmacists and others to deal with, if mean thousands of medications, we're talking about one or two here. I mean, there's no reason why someone should give up the profession or where they're working in these facilities, but i think in truth what this shows, and legislation that we've seen to the contrary to force people to violate, which is -- violate their conscious is rather an intolerance toward people of faith or morals or people that believe based on scientific evidence that life begins at conception. If you're a hospital or an individual, we're going to force you to violate them.

Michael Grant:
But Ron, along those same lines why is this something that government has to get into at all? We obviously saw a variety of different policies displayed there, and i talked about a couple. Why isn't this just best left for the pharmacist in this case, for the store that is involved in it to determine whatever they think will be the best policy, both in terms of their clientele as well as in terms of their own internal personnel policies?

Ron Johnson:
I would argue that up until recent years, it's typically worked fine, but we're seeing more and more aggression toward forcing people to violate their conscious as we see new technologies happen in terms of morning-after pills, etc. You heard about Illinois and what's happened there, where their governor is actually -- they had a good statute protecting conscious as a matter of fact, but their governor through executive order came and said, "look, if you're going to own a pharmacy, we're going to force you to do these medications." that's where the problems have been. So we're trying to protect from those types of instances.

Michael Grant:
You know, but when you actually, though, dictate a particular policy, aren't you just doing -- aren't you doing the same thing, but just the other way?

Ron Johnson:
Well, but to protect civil rights of the individuals, you're correct. I mean, we are trying to protect them, because they are getting trampled on in a way we hadn't seen in previous years.

Michael Grant:
Bryan, what about it? State of Illinois mandates this. Why should state government get actively involved in this?

Bryan Howard:
In the best of all worlds, it ought not to be a realm for public policy. However, when you talk about violating individuals' rights, whose rights are paramount at that moment in time? Someone's rights conceivably are going to be abridged or violated, but who's in the more sensitive place? The woman who has, for whatever reason, had unprotected intercourse, the condom that her partner was using broke and the diaphragm slipped, she forgot to take her pill. She was sexually molested. She has a specific window of time when taking this medication can prevent a pregnancy.

Michael Grant:
Why isn't the answer, though, to that, Bryan, I don't know that you have any particular right to purchase a remedy for that at 16th Street and Bethany Home Road? You can go to 24th Street and Bethany, although I don't -- actually I think I picked a bad location. Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road, to another pharmacy, to take care of that issue.

Bryan Howard: Well, you know, in metropolitan Phoenix, this may be less of an issue, although I would note that about six weeks ago there was a sexual assault, a woman who had been assaulted in Tucson, who presented an appropriately completed prescription for emergency contraception to a pharmacy. She not only didn't get it -- was refused the medication at that pharmacy, but had the -- the prescription taken from her. She spent 72 hours trying to get that medication going from pharmacy to pharmacy in town with a new prescription. So it's not just rural areas, where you may only have one pharmacist that you can go to.

Michael Grant:
That certainly doesn't sound like -- didn't seem like there was that sort of uniformity.

Ron Johnson:
I guess in the -- let me make it clear, too, I think it would be clearly unethical for a pharmacist to take a prescription, if indeed that happened, and that's the first I ever heard of that, but interestingly in that fact scenario she did go to planned parenthood and didn't get her prescription there either.

Michael Grant:
All right, Ron Johnson, thank you very much for joining us.

Ron Johnson:
Thanks.

Michael Grant:
Bryan Howard, our thanks to you as well.

Bryan Howard:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Although they were not segregated, Hispanics did face challenges when serving during World War II. And not many served in the army/air force. One who did is Gilbert Orrantia, the Mesa man flew more than 50 missions in a b-25 over Italy and Africa. Mike Sauceda tells us more about his exploits in tonight's Arizona story.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I remember one time there was a hole in the back, on the top, right between the bomb, a big hole, and it indicated that the shell had come when the bombardiers were -- there were no holes in the Bombay doors. There was a hole up on the top. The jacket part was to the outside. So we knew it came through there and exploded up above. We felt the concussion.

Mike Sauceda:
One of several narrow escapes by mesa resident Gilbert Orrantia, who flew 50 missions as a b-25 pilot during world war ii from November of 1942 until he returned stateside a year later to become a combat flight instructor. How narrow? The round could have hit these 100-pound bombs spaced apart by a couple of feet. Orrantia was born in 1917 and graduated from Clarkdale high school in 1936. After that he attended what was then known as Arizona state teachers college in Tempe for two years, enough to allow him to control his war destiny.

Gilbert Orrantia:
By this time it was a school year 1940-1941, so the draft was being instituted. We were signed up and I was going to be drafted, because I was real close to the original number that they pulled. So I decided I'd go ahead and volunteer for the army air corps. They wanted you to have two years of college, and that's what I had.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia met all the requirements to become a pilot an was undergoing psychological testing when the doctor asked him about his nationality.

Gilbert Orrantia:
You're a Mexican, aren't you? Yes, I am. You're going to have a hard time. My reply to that was very simply, look, if I have passed all the examinations, you put your signature on that piece of paper, and I'll take my chances with the best you've got. And if I can't cut the mustard, I don't deserve to be a pilot. That's the only way I want it.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia rose to the rank of second lieutenant. His first mission was in northern Africa as a copilot.

Gilbert Orrantia:
We're jumping all over the sky. I look over to the left, and they hit the ship, one of my buddies that we had been all the way through together, and they blew that ship apart. But, you know, they all got out. They all got out. Because I saw the parachutes. I felt like my skin was crocodile skin. Felt real goofy. Oh, heck.

Mike Sauceda:
At 86 years old, Orrantia is still able to climb into the cockpit of a restored b-25 at the commemorative air force museum in mesa.

Gilbert Orrantia:
It's interesting to get back, because as I look at this I wonder now did I learn all those? Because you had to learn these by heart. They'd blindfold you and they'd say, well, this is a compass and this is -- you know, this is a flight indicator. You'd have to touch it and tell them what it was.

Mike Sauceda:
Being in a B-25 for the first time in over 50 years, Orrantia remembered one of his most harrowing experiences as a B-25 pilot, which came on a low-altitude bombing mission aimed at a German ship. Orrantia's job was to fly 200 feet above the ocean and skip bombs on the water like a stone and into the ship.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I remember we were so low that my tail gunner would say, lieutenant, dip the tail, I'll get us some fish for lunch or supper. Well, this is the part -- this part right here -- that was shot off.

Mike Sauceda:
But his bomber came under fire.

Gilbert Orrantia:
That right vertical stabilizer the one in the back there was destroyed, and so we had to use left rudder, full left rudder, left stick, and forward stick, and it took the copilot and myself all our strength to move that and hold it there because we couldn't get any more altitude. Only had about 200 feet altitude over the ocean, when we had kind of ballooned up a little bit before they hit us from -- from pretty close to the surface. They blew that out, and so we're holding it, and we get to an airfield that was only about 10, 15 minutes away, and we knew exactly where it was. It was a little English airfield, so we landed there with -- it took a lot of doing to land, because, you know, it was very difficult to maneuver the plane. You had to make very slight movements so it wouldn't drop a wing. So we landed, and just stopped at the end of the runway. And pretty soon here come the British in the jeep, and they look up at -- look up at the rudder, and it's all blown to heck. We got down and looked at it. They went around the plane and looked at it, and they say, blimey, how did you blokes get that aircraft on the ground? Said, well, don't know, but there it is.

Mike Sauceda:
Other frightening moments for Orrantia during his 50 missions, like a belly landing when his front nose gear would not deploy or the time his plane's windshield was shattered.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I told you about the windshield, where it was all cracked and I had to fly this way to land, because I couldn't see anything. We checked the nose wheels, see that everything looked all right, and then we'd go on and check the prop, check to see that they had been pulled through, because if they weren't pulled through the oil that collected in the bottom cylinder might employee that cylinder when you started it.

Mike Sauceda:
Hispanics were not segregated in the military, and Orrantia was one of the few Hispanics in the air corps. He says he didn't experience a lot of discrimination, but there were some instances --

Gilbert Orrantia:
Guy would say, well, Mexicans are dirty and greasy. He's an officer. He's a pilot. He's a big guy. And he's as dark as I am. And he must have been about 6'4". And I happened to catch him saying it to a bunch of other officers when i went -- came up. And so I went straight up to him, and I said, look, big boy, what are you talking about? You're talking about who -- about me. I'm a Mexican. I'm a Mexican American. Oh, no. And, you know, the -- their reply was always, oh, you're different. You're different. Bull, I'm not different. I'm just like every one of those people that are out there, that you call Mexicans. And he apologized, but I -- you know, I never got to -- for a long time I didn't -- I just stayed away from him.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia's story is one of 77 featured in a book, listing 185 Arizona Hispanics who served as pilots, copilots, bombardiers, gunners and radio operators on planes during World War II. He later became a French and Spanish professor at mesa community college and community activist. It's been over 50 years since Hispanic flyboy Gilbert Orrantia has flown a B-25, but it's an experience he's always carried with him.

Gilbert Orrantia:
It was a wonderful experience. I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. I love flying them. I didn't particularly care for people shooting at me and stuff, but that comes with the territory.

Producer:
Did you know there is a stage and go lot at sky harbor airport where you can park for free and wait to pick up passengers? From new features of terminal four to security changes, new parking lots and upcoming rate increases, there are a lot of changes at sky harbor airport. We'll have an update for your holiday travel. That's Tuesday on "Horizon."

Michael Grant:
Wednesday, a special edition of "Horizon" focusing on health insurance. Thursday, a legislative preview. And Friday, please join us for the journalists' roundtable. Thank you very much for being here on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

Plan B


  • Join HORIZON for a look at the controversy surrounding the so-called "morning after pill" and whether pharmacists should have a right to refuse to dispense medications they find objectionable due to moral or religious grounds.
Guests:
  • Bryan Howard - President and C.E.O., Planned Parenthood, central and northern Arizona
  • Ron Johnson - Director, Arizona Catholic Conference


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," the controversy surrounding the so-called morning-after pill. Some call it contraception, some call it abortion. And we meet a man who was one of many young Hispanic men who fought and flew during World War II in tonight's Arizona story. Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." there have been numerous instances around the country in which some pharmacists have refused to dispense the contraceptive Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill. Plan B is not the abortion pill ru-486. It must be taken within hours of unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. One of the most visible examples of pharmacists refusing to dispense the medication occurred in Illinois where state law prohibits a pharmacist from refusing to fill a prescription. Those pharmacists were suspended. Larry Lemmons tells us more about the controversy. [phone ringing]

Susan Niebergall:
Good afternoon. Planned parenthood.

Larry Lemmons:
Susan Niebergall is the center administrator of this Planned Parenthood facility and gets on average five to six requests a day for Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill. She says the most common reason patients cite for needing the Plan B bill is that the condom broke. Planned parenthood lists its information for patients and explains the specifics of emergency contraception. She shows us the paperwork required to be completed by the patient.

Susan Niebergall:
After getting the patient's general information and a general medical consent form, the most important piece of paper that we give to the patient is the informed consent, and this is specific to emergency contraceptive protection. It's best used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. You have up to 120 hours, but 72 is best. And they're given two options of how to take the pill after they decide with the clinician how they want to take it. The clinician will fill in the name of the pill, Plan B, and they should swallow one pill on this one, and on this they should swallow two pills. Patient will sign and will witness, and the patient's given a copy of both sides of this to take with them.

Larry Lemmons:
Plan B uses the same hormone found in regular birth control pills. It prevents pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary or stopping the fertilization of an egg or in some cases prevents an egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It will not affect a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus or an existing pregnancy. But there's one possibility that raises alarm for Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy.

Cathi Herrod:
Morning-after pills can operate in four different ways, one of those ways blocking implantation of a fertilized embryo. That is a living human being in our view that deserves protection and should not be aborted by use of a morning-after pill.

Larry Lemmons:
This position marks the front in the war over Plan B and also part of the larger culture war over the issue of abortion, a war being waged even over the choice of a Supreme Court justice. At this family planning conference earlier this year, participants said there is confusion over Plan B.

Susan Wood:
And I don't know whether it's deliberate or not, this confusion, but I think it's -- but certainly when I've heard spokespeople opposed to emergency contraception come out and say it causes a type of abortion, I have to ask, well, does that mean they're opposed to regular birth control pills, because it is acting through exactly the same mechanism. It's even the same biological mechanism that happens when you're breast-feeding a baby, and you lower your risk of pregnancy, because the same hormone that's in these emergency contraceptive pills is the same hormone that your body is producing that reduces your chance of getting pregnant during breast-feeding. This is contraception. It will not interrupt an established pregnancy. It's very, very safe. And this confusion of it with an abortion pill or that it in and itself mimics an abortion, it's just wrong.

Larry Lemmons:
Susan Woods spoke at this conference. She had served as director of the F.D.A.'s office of women's health before resigning in protest when the F.D.A. rejected the recommendation from their scientific advisors to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter.

Susan Wood:
But what happened there was that there was this continually process that led to delay of a decision when in fact there was pretty much absolute agreement, not only from our external advisory committees who are asked the question, should it be brought over the -- bought over the counter, and voted very strongly that it should, but also every level of the professional staff, from the reviewers who reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents going over the data with a fine-tooth comb to every level of review above them of which there are several, who all agree that this product should be approved over the counter. On August 26, the commissioner announced that the F.D.A. was going to have to go through a bureaucratic regulatory process to develop a regulation on how to implement this idea of having very young teens staying on prescription status and older teens and older women having it available over the counter. This was an idea proposed by F.D.A. over a year before that. Again, over the objections of the professional staff as a way to sort of address some of the concerns that had been raised about young teen access.

Cathi Herrod:
Absolutely you have a 15-year-old girl who could walk in and get morning-after pills without any awareness of any contra indications. We know that birth control pills alone can cause an increase in blood clots, increase in other potential medical complications, and those need to be overseen by medical personnel.

Susan Wood:
This is not about it being safe or effective for young teens. It is. It's safe and effective for young teens and it's very clear. The question raised by F.D.A. was about whether they could understand the label and use it properly. Well, we have never asked that question of any other over-the-counter drug. We don't ask it about very young teens. We don't ask it about the elderly. We don't ask about it who have English as a second language. All those might be good questions, but historically we've just generally asked do people understand it and use it correctly. It's very clear that this product is understood and can be used correctly by the general population who would need to use it, including young teens. So that in fact was a bit of a bogus argument.

Cathi Herrod:
F.D.A. advisory committees have been overruled on other issues as well. It's not that unusual for the F.D.A. to not follow an advisory committee opinion. It's important to note that morning-after pills, because they are a high dosage of birth control pill, for a woman to receive birth control pills, she has a doctor's visit, a prescription, and oversight or supervision by that physician. When you talk about morning-after pills being over the counter, all those safeguards are gone. You're having a woman walk into a pharmacy and being given a morning-after pill without medical supervision. We believe that endangers women's health.

Larry Lemmons:
The center for Arizona policy also supported a bill vetoed by the governor last legislative session. The bill would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception or those aimed at accomplishing an abortion based on moral or religious objection.

Cathi Herrod:
We believe in healthcare workers have a right to have their personal, moral or religious beliefs protected. Current Arizona law says that a doctor or a nurse does not have to participate in an abortion if an abortion violates their personal, moral or religious conscience. We believe pharmacists should be accorded that same right as regards morning-after pills.

Larry Lemmons:
Pharmacists who have such concerns have won some concessions from private companies, providing the policies don't conflict with state law. We contacted a number of companies to determine what their policy is for pharmacists who refuse to provide certain medications. We received these responses. Walgreen's says "we believe it's reasonable to respect the individual pharmacist's beliefs by not requiring them to fill a prescription they object to on moral or religious grounds." They will also arrange to have the prescription filled at a nearby pharmacy if another pharmacist is not on duty. Target says "in the rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for the Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacist to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely or respectful manner either by another target pharmacist or different pharmacy. The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies." Wal-Mart does not sell Plan B. They say for business reasons. Wal-Mart pharmacists may decline to -- pharmacists may decline to fill prescriptions, but must find someone else who will. Another pharmacy says "it is our policy to fill all prescriptions." unlike private companies, planned parenthood has no such concerns and will dispense Plan B to whoever needs it providing certain criteria are met.

Michael Grant:
Costco also responded to our request for a statement of policy. They said the availability of Plan B in stores depends on demand. They say they have no per se written policy on a pharmacist's unwillingness to dispense medication, but will try to work with the pharmacist if such an incident were to occur. Osco did not respond before the show. Joining us to talk about the controversy over Plan B is the President and C.E.O. of Planned Parenthood of central and northern Arizona Bryan Howard and the Arizona director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, Ron Johnson. Gentlemen, good to see you both.

Bryan Howard:
Good to see you.

Michael Grant:
Happy holidays to you. Ron, let me go back to the governor's veto of the rights of conscience bill last session. Stated at least one of the reasons that she vetoed the bill was because it was opposed by groups representing pharmacists, hospitals and nurses. Why do you think those groups opposed the bill?

Ron Johnson:
Well, that's something that perhaps they could speak for themselves. I can tell you for sure that the Arizona Medical Association did remain neutral on it, and there are a lot of other nurses and pharmacists that we hear from that clearly don't take that position. It's our view that even though -- even if it is a majority of people in a certain profession that believe one way or the other that our country was founded on the concepts of religious freedom and civil liberties and that no one should be coerced to violate those. That's why we move this legislation forward.

Michael Grant:
Bryan, what is your experience with that, in terms of how professionals in those professions view each other and view this issue?

Bryan Howard:
Well, one point of clarification. The Arizona Medical Association actually has a formal policy of not taking positions on any issue related to abortion or reproductive health. So their reluctance to take a position has as much to do with their standing policy, as it has to do with this issue in particular. Planned parenthood goes a step further than the governor's veto message. We don't believe it's appropriate for a medical professional to use their moral -- their own personal moral values to overrule, override, a patient's healthcare options. And i might point out, not only the patient's healthcare choice, but also the physician who prescribed the medical profession -- professional who gave that patient the prescription. So the pharmacist isn't only overriding the patient, but he or she is also overriding the person who -- the patient who knows the patient's history. That's inappropriate.

Michael Grant:
So Planned Parenthood would oppose the statute currently on the books, which allows a doctor or nurse to refuse to participate in an abortion.

Bryan Howard:
If you don't want to carry out the -- the full array of your professional responsibilities within your profession, you should pick a different profession. If you don't want to prescribe birth control, then perhaps you'd like to look at being a pharmacist at an Arizona Heart Hospital. Maybe you'd like to look at oncology pharmacy where you're not put in that position. If you don't want to fulfill all your responsibilities, you shouldn't be going into the profession.

Ron Johnson:
I would just argue, all the medications out there for pharmacists and others to deal with, if mean thousands of medications, we're talking about one or two here. I mean, there's no reason why someone should give up the profession or where they're working in these facilities, but i think in truth what this shows, and legislation that we've seen to the contrary to force people to violate, which is -- violate their conscious is rather an intolerance toward people of faith or morals or people that believe based on scientific evidence that life begins at conception. If you're a hospital or an individual, we're going to force you to violate them.

Michael Grant:
But Ron, along those same lines why is this something that government has to get into at all? We obviously saw a variety of different policies displayed there, and i talked about a couple. Why isn't this just best left for the pharmacist in this case, for the store that is involved in it to determine whatever they think will be the best policy, both in terms of their clientele as well as in terms of their own internal personnel policies?

Ron Johnson:
I would argue that up until recent years, it's typically worked fine, but we're seeing more and more aggression toward forcing people to violate their conscious as we see new technologies happen in terms of morning-after pills, etc. You heard about Illinois and what's happened there, where their governor is actually -- they had a good statute protecting conscious as a matter of fact, but their governor through executive order came and said, "look, if you're going to own a pharmacy, we're going to force you to do these medications." that's where the problems have been. So we're trying to protect from those types of instances.

Michael Grant:
You know, but when you actually, though, dictate a particular policy, aren't you just doing -- aren't you doing the same thing, but just the other way?

Ron Johnson:
Well, but to protect civil rights of the individuals, you're correct. I mean, we are trying to protect them, because they are getting trampled on in a way we hadn't seen in previous years.

Michael Grant:
Bryan, what about it? State of Illinois mandates this. Why should state government get actively involved in this?

Bryan Howard:
In the best of all worlds, it ought not to be a realm for public policy. However, when you talk about violating individuals' rights, whose rights are paramount at that moment in time? Someone's rights conceivably are going to be abridged or violated, but who's in the more sensitive place? The woman who has, for whatever reason, had unprotected intercourse, the condom that her partner was using broke and the diaphragm slipped, she forgot to take her pill. She was sexually molested. She has a specific window of time when taking this medication can prevent a pregnancy.

Michael Grant:
Why isn't the answer, though, to that, Bryan, I don't know that you have any particular right to purchase a remedy for that at 16th Street and Bethany Home Road? You can go to 24th Street and Bethany, although I don't -- actually I think I picked a bad location. Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road, to another pharmacy, to take care of that issue.

Bryan Howard: Well, you know, in metropolitan Phoenix, this may be less of an issue, although I would note that about six weeks ago there was a sexual assault, a woman who had been assaulted in Tucson, who presented an appropriately completed prescription for emergency contraception to a pharmacy. She not only didn't get it -- was refused the medication at that pharmacy, but had the -- the prescription taken from her. She spent 72 hours trying to get that medication going from pharmacy to pharmacy in town with a new prescription. So it's not just rural areas, where you may only have one pharmacist that you can go to.

Michael Grant:
That certainly doesn't sound like -- didn't seem like there was that sort of uniformity.

Ron Johnson:
I guess in the -- let me make it clear, too, I think it would be clearly unethical for a pharmacist to take a prescription, if indeed that happened, and that's the first I ever heard of that, but interestingly in that fact scenario she did go to planned parenthood and didn't get her prescription there either.

Michael Grant:
All right, Ron Johnson, thank you very much for joining us.

Ron Johnson:
Thanks.

Michael Grant:
Bryan Howard, our thanks to you as well.

Bryan Howard:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Although they were not segregated, Hispanics did face challenges when serving during World War II. And not many served in the army/air force. One who did is Gilbert Orrantia, the Mesa man flew more than 50 missions in a b-25 over Italy and Africa. Mike Sauceda tells us more about his exploits in tonight's Arizona story.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I remember one time there was a hole in the back, on the top, right between the bomb, a big hole, and it indicated that the shell had come when the bombardiers were -- there were no holes in the Bombay doors. There was a hole up on the top. The jacket part was to the outside. So we knew it came through there and exploded up above. We felt the concussion.

Mike Sauceda:
One of several narrow escapes by mesa resident Gilbert Orrantia, who flew 50 missions as a b-25 pilot during world war ii from November of 1942 until he returned stateside a year later to become a combat flight instructor. How narrow? The round could have hit these 100-pound bombs spaced apart by a couple of feet. Orrantia was born in 1917 and graduated from Clarkdale high school in 1936. After that he attended what was then known as Arizona state teachers college in Tempe for two years, enough to allow him to control his war destiny.

Gilbert Orrantia:
By this time it was a school year 1940-1941, so the draft was being instituted. We were signed up and I was going to be drafted, because I was real close to the original number that they pulled. So I decided I'd go ahead and volunteer for the army air corps. They wanted you to have two years of college, and that's what I had.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia met all the requirements to become a pilot an was undergoing psychological testing when the doctor asked him about his nationality.

Gilbert Orrantia:
You're a Mexican, aren't you? Yes, I am. You're going to have a hard time. My reply to that was very simply, look, if I have passed all the examinations, you put your signature on that piece of paper, and I'll take my chances with the best you've got. And if I can't cut the mustard, I don't deserve to be a pilot. That's the only way I want it.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia rose to the rank of second lieutenant. His first mission was in northern Africa as a copilot.

Gilbert Orrantia:
We're jumping all over the sky. I look over to the left, and they hit the ship, one of my buddies that we had been all the way through together, and they blew that ship apart. But, you know, they all got out. They all got out. Because I saw the parachutes. I felt like my skin was crocodile skin. Felt real goofy. Oh, heck.

Mike Sauceda:
At 86 years old, Orrantia is still able to climb into the cockpit of a restored b-25 at the commemorative air force museum in mesa.

Gilbert Orrantia:
It's interesting to get back, because as I look at this I wonder now did I learn all those? Because you had to learn these by heart. They'd blindfold you and they'd say, well, this is a compass and this is -- you know, this is a flight indicator. You'd have to touch it and tell them what it was.

Mike Sauceda:
Being in a B-25 for the first time in over 50 years, Orrantia remembered one of his most harrowing experiences as a B-25 pilot, which came on a low-altitude bombing mission aimed at a German ship. Orrantia's job was to fly 200 feet above the ocean and skip bombs on the water like a stone and into the ship.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I remember we were so low that my tail gunner would say, lieutenant, dip the tail, I'll get us some fish for lunch or supper. Well, this is the part -- this part right here -- that was shot off.

Mike Sauceda:
But his bomber came under fire.

Gilbert Orrantia:
That right vertical stabilizer the one in the back there was destroyed, and so we had to use left rudder, full left rudder, left stick, and forward stick, and it took the copilot and myself all our strength to move that and hold it there because we couldn't get any more altitude. Only had about 200 feet altitude over the ocean, when we had kind of ballooned up a little bit before they hit us from -- from pretty close to the surface. They blew that out, and so we're holding it, and we get to an airfield that was only about 10, 15 minutes away, and we knew exactly where it was. It was a little English airfield, so we landed there with -- it took a lot of doing to land, because, you know, it was very difficult to maneuver the plane. You had to make very slight movements so it wouldn't drop a wing. So we landed, and just stopped at the end of the runway. And pretty soon here come the British in the jeep, and they look up at -- look up at the rudder, and it's all blown to heck. We got down and looked at it. They went around the plane and looked at it, and they say, blimey, how did you blokes get that aircraft on the ground? Said, well, don't know, but there it is.

Mike Sauceda:
Other frightening moments for Orrantia during his 50 missions, like a belly landing when his front nose gear would not deploy or the time his plane's windshield was shattered.

Gilbert Orrantia:
I told you about the windshield, where it was all cracked and I had to fly this way to land, because I couldn't see anything. We checked the nose wheels, see that everything looked all right, and then we'd go on and check the prop, check to see that they had been pulled through, because if they weren't pulled through the oil that collected in the bottom cylinder might employee that cylinder when you started it.

Mike Sauceda:
Hispanics were not segregated in the military, and Orrantia was one of the few Hispanics in the air corps. He says he didn't experience a lot of discrimination, but there were some instances --

Gilbert Orrantia:
Guy would say, well, Mexicans are dirty and greasy. He's an officer. He's a pilot. He's a big guy. And he's as dark as I am. And he must have been about 6'4". And I happened to catch him saying it to a bunch of other officers when i went -- came up. And so I went straight up to him, and I said, look, big boy, what are you talking about? You're talking about who -- about me. I'm a Mexican. I'm a Mexican American. Oh, no. And, you know, the -- their reply was always, oh, you're different. You're different. Bull, I'm not different. I'm just like every one of those people that are out there, that you call Mexicans. And he apologized, but I -- you know, I never got to -- for a long time I didn't -- I just stayed away from him.

Mike Sauceda:
Orrantia's story is one of 77 featured in a book, listing 185 Arizona Hispanics who served as pilots, copilots, bombardiers, gunners and radio operators on planes during World War II. He later became a French and Spanish professor at mesa community college and community activist. It's been over 50 years since Hispanic flyboy Gilbert Orrantia has flown a B-25, but it's an experience he's always carried with him.

Gilbert Orrantia:
It was a wonderful experience. I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. I love flying them. I didn't particularly care for people shooting at me and stuff, but that comes with the territory.

Producer:
Did you know there is a stage and go lot at sky harbor airport where you can park for free and wait to pick up passengers? From new features of terminal four to security changes, new parking lots and upcoming rate increases, there are a lot of changes at sky harbor airport. We'll have an update for your holiday travel. That's Tuesday on "Horizon."

Michael Grant:
Wednesday, a special edition of "Horizon" focusing on health insurance. Thursday, a legislative preview. And Friday, please join us for the journalists' roundtable. Thank you very much for being here on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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