Saturday, June 03, 2006

Should Pharmacists be Able to Refuse and Refer?

Should pharmacists be able to refuse to dispense a 'morning-after' pill if they morally object? The Seattle Board of Pharmacy voted 5-0 to approve draft changes to board policy to permit pharmacists to "refuse and refer" if they so inclined. There is a 30-day review before a final vote. The proposed changes in legislation can be viewed here. The wording suggests that women could be referred to another individual in the same pharmacy to fill the script, but an individual pharmacist could refuse to dispense the medication based on their beliefs. The compromise is being heralded as "a slippery slope" by much of the mainstream press and women's groups.

Doctors who object to performing abortions don't have to perform them. Should a pharmacist equally at odds with dispensing abortifacients have to dispense such drugs based on similar principles? Is this discrimination against women or the pharmacist? To hear the pharmacists' side:

Pharmacists should have the right to decline work that conflicts with their beliefs as long as they respect the patient, Rod Shafer, executive
director of the Washington State Pharmacy Association, said earlier this year.

"We are not dispensing machines," Shafer said. "We are professionals
who have as many rights as anybody else."

In 2005, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered Illinois pharmacies to fill all prescriptions for the pill. He was promply sued. Walgreens Company has joined the suit which is pending.

What do you think?


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