Virginia pharmacy had plenty of moral convictions, few clients

By Petula Dvorak
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy in Chantilly proudly and purposefully limited what it would stock on its shelves. But it turns out that no birth control pills, no condoms, no porn, no tobacco and even no makeup added up to one thing:

No customers.

The self-described "pro-life" pharmacy went out of business last month, less than two years after it opened to great fanfare, with a Catholic priest sprinkling holy water on the strip-mall store tucked between an Asian supermarket and a scuba shop.

No word on whether he returned for last rites.

The drugstore was one of a handful across the country that have put the moral conviction of a pharmacist at the forefront of a business. And as a business model, that's fine, I guess.

The nearby scuba store shouldn't be required to sell Snuba equipment, the Airsoft Guns shop across the street shouldn't have to sell the Kalashnikov paintball model and, of course, Lotus Vegetarian down the way shouldn't have to serve up burgers.

John T. Bruchalski, president of Divine Mercy Care and the doctor who opened the pharmacy, then had to close it, said he wanted a place where pharmacists "could bring their conscience into the store, rather than hang it up at the door when they entered."

Unfortunately, the location was within walking distance of at least one other drugstore and across the street from a Kmart with a pharmacy.

It makes little sense to make another stop to fill a prescription across the street for moral reasons, especially considering that Kmart is probably a regular shopping place for even the most devout Christians. I mean, where else can you get a $14.99 cubic zirconia cross, a $1.49 Blessed Mother candle, lawn fertilizer for that lawn your lovely offspring will play on and a crockpot for the church cook-off under one roof?

"The biggest negative was that convenience factor," Bruchalski said.

A half-dozen similar pharmacies in such places as Louisiana, Florida and Indiana are faring just fine, said Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life International, a coalition of pharmacists who also have moral issues with the full array of services that their profession entails.

The Chantilly pharmacy opened as an offshoot of Divine Mercy Care in Fairfax and the Tepeyac Family Center, which adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

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