Address to College Council and Pharmacists AGM, College of Pharmacists
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
29 November, 2003
Reproduced with permission
The following address was made in support of a motion requesting that
the College of Pharmacists of BC respect freedom of conscience among
pharmacists. The motion was defeated 33-9. The College has been hostile
to the concept of freedom of conscience for some time. (See
Since the inauguration
of the new Code of Ethics in 1997, it has been insinuated that pharmacists
are incapable of treating a client with due sensitivity and respect, while
at the same time having the courage, integrity, and uprightness to act
according to one's own convictions.
Good afternoon everyone, members of council, Linda Lytle,
Most of you are here today because you want to have a say in the making
of College policy- I wish my resolution had some math in it so that those of
you who are here for the calculator might support my cause, which I hope
will become yours as well.
There is more at stake here than merely our license- though for most of
us that is already a big thing. What is at stake is our very dignity as
intelligent human beings. Since the inauguration of the new Code of Ethics
in 1997, it has been insinuated that pharmacists are incapable of treating a
client with due sensitivity and respect, while at the same time having the
courage, integrity, and uprightness to act according to one's own
Can a pharmacist be truly considered to be a professional when his
licensing body does not encourage him to act freely ?
At last year's AGM one of our colleagues went so far as to make the
ridiculous assertion that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
applies only to patients, but not to pharmacists. Is this the kind of future
you want for your profession?
You and I make moral and ethical choices every day. We ask ourselves
(both in and out of the dispensary) is this what I ought to be doing?
The College cannot presume to dictate what those choices should be to the
minutest details, especially if our own conscience were to come into
conflict with a perceived patient-need. By a perceived need, I mean
something a patient wants, but will not be endangered without.
I'm sure you've all come up against the client who wants the latest
herbal remedy which you do not believe in and therefore do not stock. Would
you go out of your way to help the client to find this product even if doing
so would conflict with your conscience?
I will give you a more controversial example: Supposing you live in a
country where it is legal for a parent to euthanize a child. Would you go
ahead and dispense the concoction even if such a practice is disturbing for
Value IX of our current Code of Ethics undermines a pharmacist's ability
to act in a morally coherent way.
It infringes on our civil liberties.
It tarnishes the College's claims to " value fulfilling its
responsibility to its members and treating them with respect and dignity"