Pharmacists in ‘conscientious objection’ to morning-after pill

Some are refusing to sell emergency contraception

Times of Malta

Claire Caruana

A number of individual pharmacists are refusing to dispense the morning-after pill on moral grounds, it has emerged, even though the emergency contraceptive is stocked in the pharmacies where they work.

The pharmacists are either directing customers to other pharmacies where they will not have a problem purchasing the pill or else telling them to return to the same pharmacy another time when another “sympathetic” pharmacist will be on duty.

Malta Chamber of Pharmacists president Mary Ann Sant Fournier told The Sunday Times of Malta that like other independent healthcare professionals, pharmacists “have a right to conscientious objection”. . .[Full text]

 

Conscientious objectors – ‘Pharmacists have right to refuse to sell the MAP’

Authority set to issue guidelines

Times of Malta

Claire Caruana

As “independent healthcare professionals”, pharmacists had every right to refuse to sell the morning-after pill if it went against their moral beliefs, Malta Chamber of Pharmacists president Mary Ann Sant Fournier said yesterday.

Ms Sant Fournier’s comments came in the wake of a decision by the Medicines Authority that the contraceptive could be sold over the counter.

“One must emphasise the status that pharmacists enjoy as independent healthcare professionals and their right to conscientious objection should be upheld at all times,” Ms Sant Fournier said when contacted. . . [Full text]

Here’s What Actually Happens When You Fight for Conscience Rights

A family places its trust in God as it battles Washington state for the right to run their pharmacy and grocery store in line with Catholic teachings.

National Catholic Register

Loredana Vuoto

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Every morning, Greg Stormans contemplates a Bible verse perched in a tiny frame above his bathroom sink, which his daughter handwrote: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

This verse sets the tone for his entire day and life.

“When I first heard this verse, even at a young age, it had an impact on me. It really changed my life and how I view it,” Stormans, one of the owners of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympiatold CNA.

“Every day when I get up, I remember that the Lord has made it and that I should be happy and grateful. You have to share this and be happy, knowing that God has given you a purpose in life.”

Stormans and his family, who have been operating the small grocery story and pharmacy for the past four generations, had no idea they would be at the center of a firestorm in 2007, when the Washington Pharmacy Commission began to require pharmacies to dispense the potentially abortion-inducing drugs Plan B and ella, and make conscience-based referrals illegal.

Devout Catholics, the Stormans decided that they could not sell abortion-related drugs, because it was against their deepest convictions to sell drugs that “promote death.” . . . [Full text]

 

Doctors who oppose morning-after pill on conscience grounds face qualifications bar

Guidelines confirm that doctors and nurses who oppose controversial emergency contraception on ‘moral or religious’ grounds cannot receive key specialist qualifications

The Telegraph

John Bingham

Doctors and nurses who object to providing controversial emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds are being barred from specialist professional qualifications under official guidelines.

They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as “ineligible” for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme.

It led to accusations that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a branch of the RCOG, is unfairly discriminating against medical staff who act on grounds of conscience. [Full Text]

RCOG faculty bars prolife doctors from receiving its degrees and diplomas

 Dr. Peter Saunders*

Doctors and nurses who have a moral objection to prescribing ‘contraceptives’ which act by killing human embryos are to be barred from receiving diplomas in sexual and reproductive health even if they undertake the necessary training according to new guidelines.

Under new rules issued by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) earlier this year these doctors and nurses are also to be barred from membership of the faculty and from specialty training.

The FSRH is a faculty of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists established on the 26th March 1993 as the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. In 2007 it changed its name to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. [Full Text]

 

Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid

 

Freedom2Care.org

Jonathan Imbody*

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.

Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.

The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals–and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:

“Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.

“Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.  I tendered my resignation within the hour, it was accepted, and my last work day is July 20th.  I realize that I am an ‘at will’ employee and I do not expect any recourse. Just for your information to add me to the list of those quitting pharmacy solely because of the policy change.  Keep up the good work. The battle rages.  The Lord is able to supply our needs.”

Remember that even the Obama administration health department opposed the unlimited sale of the morning-after pill, citing health concerns. So presumably, even the radically pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.

Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama trashed the only federal regulation protecting health care professionals from discrimination and firings for reasons of conscience. They and other abortion advocates also can’t seem to muster enough liberality to support the tolerant, diversity-respecting and broad-minded principles of the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (S 1204 and HR 940).

While the regulation and the law apply specifically to government-funded programs, each can help establish an environment of true respect for conscience, tolerance and diversity that will protect health care professionals nationwide. Until then, pharmacists, obstetricians and family docs who still adhere to the Hippocratic oath and faith tenets remain subject to job loss, discrimination and ostracism for their life-affirming views.

Jonathan Imbody
Vice President for Government Relations,
Christian Medical Association 
CMA Washington office: P.O. Box 16351 • Washington, DC 20041
703-723-8688 (office) • 703-434-9794 (mobile)
Director, Freedom2Care – 50 groups and 29,000 individuals advancing conscience rights

Conscience Legislation, the Personhood Movement, and Access to Emergency Contraception

4 Faulkner Law Review  411 (2013)

Jonathon F. Will

Introduction:  In the medical setting, conscience legislation serves to protect health care professionals who refuse to provide certain procedures or services that would violate their consciences.  The “Personhood Movement,” on the other hand, is characterized by advocates’ attempts to adopt legislation or constitutional amendments at the state and/or federal level that would extend the legal and moral protection associated with personhood to members of the human species at the earliest stages of biological development.  The relationship between conscience legislation and the Personhood Movement may not be self-evident, but the connection becomes apparent when considering trends in conscience legislation.  This is particularly true in the context of expanding legal protection to health care professionals who object to certain forms of birth control, such as emergency contraception (EC). [Full Text]

Christian medical practice resented in London

Links Medical Practice in Mottingham, south London, includes some physicians unwilling to prescribe the morning-after pill for reasons of conscience, and has posted a notice so that customers can seek the drug elsewhere.  An anonymous patient reported the practice to the media because she was “outraged” at the ‘religious influence’ on medical practice, and plans to find another physician.  The Family Planning Association has encouraged other women to leave the practice.  [The Independent]

The fox and the grapes:

An Anglo-Irish perspective on conscientious objection to the supply of emergency hormonal contraception without prescription

Cathal T Gallagher, Alice Holton, Lisa J McDonald, Paul J Gallagher

Abstract

Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) has been available from pharmacies in the UK without prescription for 11 years. In the Republic of Ireland this service was made available in 2011. In both jurisdictions the respective regulators have included conscience clauses  which allow pharmacists to opt out of providing EHC on religious or moral grounds providing certain criteria are met. In effect, conscientious objectors must refer patients to other providers who are willing to supply these medicines. Inclusion of such clauses leads to a cycle of cognitive dissonance on behalf of both parties.

Objectors convince themselves of the existence of a moral difference between supply of EHC and referral to another supplier, while the regulators must feign satisfaction that a form of regulation lacking universality will not lead to adverse consequences in the long term. We contend that whichever of these two parties truly believes in that which they purport to must act to end this unsatisfactory status quo. Either the regulators must compel all pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception to all suitable patients who request it, or a pharmacist must refuse either to supply EHC or to refer the patient to an alternative supplier and challenge any subsequent sanctions imposed by their regulator. [Full Text]

Americans United for Life Celebrates Win for Illinois Conscience Rights in Case AUL Championed Since 2005

NEWS RELEASE

Americans United for Life

“This decision has dramatic implications for all people of faith who object to being forced to throw aside their convictions to support an anti-life agenda,” said AUL’s Dr. Charmaine Yoest

WASHINGTON, D.C. (12-11-12) – After seven years in court, the decision by the Illinois Attorney General not to file an appeal in Morr-Fitz vs. Quinn means that Illinois pharmacists finally cannot be forced to dispense life-ending drugs against their Rights of Conscience. Those rights are protected under the Illinois Health Care Rights of Conscience Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the U.S. Constitution. Americans United for Life attorneys have been engaged in the case since 2005, defending the freedoms of pharmacists Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog, representing their interests in court along with several Illinois pharmacies owned by them.

“This is a tremendous victory. Rights of conscience are under assault today and this case is a rebuke to those who argue that the government can violate the First Amendment Rights of Americans by forcing them to advance an anti-life agenda. This includes the abortion industry which aggressively supported the coercive mandate in Illinois and is arguing for similar measures in other states,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

In 2005, AUL filed a lawsuit challenging a rule issued by then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich forcing pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense so-called “emergency contraceptives” “without delay.”  At that point, then-Director of AUL’s Center for Rights of Conscience Ed Martin was lead counsel in the case along with AUL Staff Counsel Mailee Smith.  When the suit was filed, Martin noted:

“Luke Vander Bleek is suing to protect his rights as an American — his right to build a business, contribute to society as a health care professional, and to live according to his principles.  The Governor is trampling the rights of health care professionals and small business owners through his emergency rule.”

AUL Advisory Board member, Mark L. Rienzi, law professor at Catholic University and Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund, took over the case in 2006.

“We are delighted with the decision,” said Rienzi. “The government should not have tried to force these pharmacists out of business for their religious objection to selling a small handful of drugs.  Over seven years of litigation, there was never a shred of proof that a religious objection at a pharmacy harmed anyone.  These pharmacists do a wonderful job serving their communities, and the state’s decision not to appeal lets them get back to that important work.”

Over the course of the litigation, AUL filed three amicus briefs in the case. Two were filed before the Illinois Supreme Court and argued that both federal and Illinois law protected pharmacists’ freedom of conscience, that freedom of conscience is an historic right “steeped in the history and tradition” of America, and that the post-fertilization effect of “emergency contraception” is objectionable to many pharmacists who also should be free to exercise their First Amendment Rights of Conscience.

For more on this case, and AUL’s involvement, click here.