Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pharmacists to be Denied Conscience Rights

The Ontario Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council is gearing up to pass a resolution that would effectively prevent pharmacists from refusing to provide pharmaceuticals such as the Pill based on religious objections. Again, this type of regulation violates the rights of those pharmacists who act on their conscience by not providing abortifacients or contraceptives. It reminds me of those bumper stickers I've seen - "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." Now, these bumper stickers are seriously twisted and disturbing, but couldn't we apply the same low standard in these cases? "Like Contraception? Go somewhere else to get it." As far as I can see, there is nothing in the Charter that guarantees a right to contraception.


At 6:59 PM, Anonymous OLM said...

I have a question. I don't know if this has happened in Canada, but I've heard about it happening in the U.S. that sometimes pharmacists won't give the prescription back, not just not fill it. I think that if pharmacists shouldn't be required to fill contraceptive prescriptions, they should at least be required to return the prescription to the woman, rather than forcing her to return to a doctor. Like conscientious objection - they don't have to participate, but they shouldn't get to control the woman's actions. What do you think about that?

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like conservative activism to me.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

I would think that returning the prescription to the woman would be appropriate. I haven't heard of this happening, but thanks for pointing it out.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous concerned said...

I do not endorse the use of contraceptives (especially the morning-after pill), however I do think that it is not the job of a pharmacist to be able to refuse to give a pill to their patients.

See the Oath of a Pharmacist from the AACP website, or the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists from American Pharmacists' Association.

It is the job of a pharmacist to provide for the patient, and refusing to provide services based on personal beliefs seems to fly in the face of the Code of Ethics.

Specifically, see sections III, IV, and VI. These sections deal with:

III. Respecting the "...autonomy and dignity of each patient." This would seem to include respecting their decision (made with their doctor in terms of providing the prescription) to take or order a medication.

IV. Acting "...with honesty and integrity in professional relationships." This explicitly is described as "...avoiding discriminatory practices," which would include discriminating based on the pharmacists own beliefs.

VI. Repecting "... the values and abilities of colleagues and other health professionals." This seems to mean that prescriptions written by other health professionals should be respected, despite the fact that their beliefs may be different than another's.

All this seems to me to indicate that it is not up to the pharmacist to decide whether to fill the prescription. Again, this is coming from someone who would not want to give out the morning-after pill themselves. There are other outlets for curbing abortions...

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Becky said...


The code of ethics states that a pharmacist should respect the "autonomy and dignity of each patient." To a pro-life pharmacist, this also includes the child still in the womb of the mother. To him or her, issuing the morning after pill does not respect the autonomy and dignity of the unborn child. In fact, to hand the abortifacient directly to the woman would be complicent in murder. This is a pretty weighty thing to be on the conscience of the pharmacist.

Leaving aside the question of abortifacients, Catholics believe that the use of contraception in married life is an intrinsic evil, destroying both the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage. And I have no doubt that pharmacists still deny contraception to those unmarried girls who are just using it to regulate their period, but they have every right to. We, as human beings, have a right to "recuse" ourselves from decisions that would violate our consciences.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

should this apply to any prescription at all or just the ones that your personal beliefs would also deem inappropriate. Can a pharmacist in the only pharmacy in a small town refuse to fill a prescription for penicilin on moral grounds. You may not see a moral problem with that, but then I don't see a moral problem with distributing birth control pills.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. and since it IS left to the conscience of the individual- that is inherently subjective

At 2:59 AM, Anonymous concerned said...

I think anon brings up a valid point: if a pharmacist has a problem with say, hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) for whatever reason, should they be allowed to refuse to fill the prescription?

Perhaps the moral objection is involved in, say, refusing to fill a prescription for a COX-2 inhibitor (like Vioxx or Celebrex...) for the belief that it will cause harm to the patient.

Is it up to the patient and the doctor to decide whether the medication is necessary, or is it up to the pharmacist? Is it the job of the patient and the doctor to weigh the benefits and risks of a prescription, or the pharmacist?

Moreover, there are plenty of people who feel morally opposed to medication in general... if one of those people became a pharmacist...

...Well, you get the picture.


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