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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Legal Commentary

Re: Ohio House Bill 68

Testimony before Ohio House Health Committee
May, 2004

Testimony of Karen Brauer, M.S., RPh*

House Bill 68 addresses the need for protecting a pharmacist's right to choose to dispense only those drugs which promote life and health of a patient. There is a long medical tradition admonishing the health care professional to do no harm. This tradition codified most clearly in the Hippocratic Oath has unfortunately been set aside by many. Others of us wish to adhere to a practice of preserving and promoting human life.

A pharmacist, whether as employee or business owner, bears individual clinical, legal, and moral responsibility for his or her dispensing decisions. Authority to make the decisions needs to be protected. Without this authority, the practice of pharmacy is untenable.

While it has proven possible to bring a legal defense of the pharmacist's right to avoid killing humans, in the state of Ohio, it is quite difficult. After being fired from K-Mart pharmacy in 1996, for refusal to dispense an abortifacient birth control drug, I won the opportunity to present my case in federal court. This procedure required the benevolent assistance of the American Center for Law and Justice, a public interest law firm. It should be mentioned that no local lawyers felt that I had a case with a chance of success in the state of Ohio. The usual pharmacist, after losing a job, does not have the funding to initiate a legal battle which may extend for so many years as mine has taken. Also the usual pharmacist might not be able to spend years of effort, publicizing an issue on the internet until it attracts the interest of the news media and the general public. It should not be necessary, nor is it desirable, to assist in bringing about the bankruptcy of a large corporation with so many employees, in order to draw attention to an abrogation of those human rights which were traditionally respected in the United States.

A clearly written law, protecting the dispensing authority of pharmacists who choose not to kill will serve the needs of women who deserve to be fully informed concerning their means of birth control. In a state in which medical professionals are not expected to end human life, women will understand that there is also not an expectation for them to do the same. There will be incentive and opportunity to directly address the problems of rape and sexual abuse, rather than to conceal them by the various means of abortion. A clearly written law will help to define the relationship of health care professionals and their employers. An employer may continue to expect that an employee pharmacist should bring profitability to the company, but not that he or she kill in order to do so.

The prospect of being forced to participate in ending human life serves as a deterrent for many capable people who would otherwise be attracted to the health professions. A perceived shortage of providers of chemical and surgical abortion is driving such organizations as NARAL and Planned Parenthood to coerce participation by the unwilling. These organizations also seek to protect their income stream by denying or obfuscating the information about the birth control in question, which is found in the physician package inserts of the drugs, and in the medical literature.

At issue today are the rights of patients and medical professionals who wish to avoid ending human life at any stage of development. Patients deserve information and care from health care providers who are free to avoid killing in their practice. This pharmacist is grateful to Representative Keith Faber for introducing House bill 68, and urges the support of this legislation by the Health Care Committee.

For your convenience and for paperwork reduction, pertinent review articles from Archives of Family Medicine and The Annals of Pharmacotherapeutics are linked at this internet location:


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