Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Freedom of choice applies to both sides

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:18 a.m.

Americans value freedom. We are a country of choice - from what color shirt we want to wear today to where we work, worship and live.

But with the freedom to choose comes the inevitable possibility of conflict. When our choices intersect others, we must tread lightly so as not to trample the rights of others. This situation cropped up recently in the little community of Goliad.

Gary Patrick, majority shareholder of the 142-year-old Goliad Pharmacy and Gifts, wanted to offer the birth control drug known as Plan B One-Step, also known as the morning-after pill. Tim Von Dohlen, minority shareholder and owner of the building that housed the pharmacy, said he could not renew the pharmacy's lease if they sold the drug, as it conflicted with his religious beliefs.

We do not wish to comment on the controversy of the drug itself. That controversy is discussed ad nauseum by many national news outlets as well as various nonprofits and special interest groups. We wish to applaud both parties involved in this particular issue in Goliad.

It is so easy in today's world to become embroiled in and obsessed with controversy. It is more common to see those with differences of opinion shouting each other down rather than settling things peacefully. Far too often, we as humans seem to forget that we are all deserving of mutual respect and have the freedom to make our own choices.

In the case of Goliad Pharmacy and Gifts, both parties met and discussed their differences in a rational manner. When it became obvious there could be no agreement or compromise, both parties remained mature and respectful. Patrick chose to move his business to another building where he could offer Plan B. There was not an ugly lawsuit or dueling picket lines of pro-life and pro-choice protesters causing a scene. Two mature adults met, talked and made a decision.

We are grateful that we live in a country where both landowners and businesses have that freedom to choose and to act. As the owner of the property, Von Dohlen had the right to set conditions for the business that would be using his land. Since he does not agree with them, Patrick also has the right to find a new place to house his business where he has the freedom to offer whichever legal drugs he wants.

We applaud both parties for their displays of maturity and mutual respect in this business transaction. We wish that was more common in today's world.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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