Project letter to the Edmonton Sun

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
25 April, 2000

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

Mindelle Jacobs cites Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, to the effect that conscientious objectors should be driven out of the medical profession if they are unwilling to provide “perfectly legal services” to patients who want the services but can’t go elsewhere to get them. According to Jacobs, Alberta Pharmaceutical Association registrar Greg Eberhart has similar views (Pharmacists want right of refusal, Edmonton Sun, 16 April, 2000).

Well, perhaps they wouldn’t drive them out of the profession. Perhaps they’d just drive them out of the province, or out of the country. Freedom of conscience, if you insist, but not in my back yard.

Now, Jacobs is surely convinced of the truth of the moral vision she shares with Schafer and Eberhart, and of its fundamental importance. After all, she wants to impose that morality by denying conscientious objectors employment, or firing them, or forcing them to go elsewhere to make a living. One wouldn’t do such things unless the morality to be imposed was at least superior to the morality being suppressed, and unless one was also convinced of the necessity of forcing it upon others.

Unfortunately, Jacobs does not explain why her morality is superior to that of pharmacists like Maria Bizecki and Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience. Instead, she indulges in a bit of speculative scare-mongering. If “Bizecki and her pals”have their way, she wonders, “Where will it stop?”

One might also ask where it will stop if conscientious objection is suppressed. A recent bulletin from the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia (Vol. 25, No. 2. Ethics in Practice: Moral Conflicts in Pharmacy Practice) suggests the answer. Driven by the primary ‘ethical criteria’ of legality and consumer demand, the CPBC would require pharmacists to dispense drugs not only for abortion, but for euthanasia, assisted suicide and execution by lethal injection. Canada Safeway, apparently taking its ethical direction from such missives, entered the millennium by asserting that it has the right to ensure employees with religious scruples “promptly serve its customers” and not direct them to competitors for euthanasia drugs and abortion pills (Pharmacy Policies and Procedures, Section IV, Pharmacy Operations, Chapter 4, 1/1/2000, Page No. 16).

Alberta M.L.A. Julius Yankowsky has put forward a bill seeking limited legal protection of conscience for health care workers. The bill does not take any position on the morality or desirability of abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia or other controversial medical procedures. It simply recognizes that such procedures are morally controversial. It permits discussion and reasoned argument, but not discrimination or coercion.

Sadly, the reaction of Mindelle Jacobs, Arthur Schafer and Greg Eberhart to Mr. Yankowsky’s modest proposal demonstrates the need for such legislation.

Pharmacists for Life criticizes BC College of Pharmacists

News Release

Pharmacists for Life (Canada)

Pharmacists for Life International/Canada opposes the  controversial policy decision by the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia in which pharmacists in that province will be facing increased pressure to be distributors of death-causing products and services.

Mr. Michael Izzotti, Coordinator of PFLI/Canada, stated in an information bulletin today that “to supply death causing products and services from a pharmacy (a health care facility) flies in the face of the promotion of appropriate practices the pharmaceutical profession has engaged in for the last 15-20years”.

Mr. Izzotti further stated that “the push by the College of Pharmacists of BC to pressure the professionals that they regulate to supply the controversial products and services that the College suggests, represents a travesty in  health care”.  This is in direct contradiction to the Hippocratic Oath which many noble and honorable medical practitioners have taken and are committed to follow.

A recent BC College bulletin article, “Ethics in Practice”,1 suggests that pharmacists may have a conscientious or moral objection to future services that “might expand to include, preparation of drugs to assist voluntary or involuntary suicide, cloning, genetic manipulation or even execution”. These products & services and some others mentioned in that article in fact are not  necessarily “recognized” nor “legitimate” services to be expected from a pharmacy.

In light of the above concerns, and considering that similar concerns are arising in Alberta,  PFLI/Canada extends it support to Alberta’s Bill 212 prepared by Julius Yankowsky, which would insure Human Rights protection regarding Freedom of     Conscience to all health care workers.  In addition, PFLI/Canada encourages federal     conscience legislation to be enacted.

Notes 1. Bulletin of the College of Pharmacists of B.C. Mar/Apr 2000, Vol. 25, No.2

For further information, please call Michael Izzotti, Coordinator PFLI/Canada Tel: (905)528-4828 Fax (905)528-5593 or Email- hrtl@hwcn.org

Pharmacists for Life International (Canada) Information Bulletin April 12/00

Due to continuing discussions caused by a controversial policy decision by the College of  Pharmacists of British Columbia in which pharmacists in that province will be facing  increased pressure to be distributors of death-causing products and services, PFLI/Canada  felt it necessary to make these statements at this time. Pharmacists have traditionally been known, trusted and respected for being providers of life saving,     health-maintaining-and-restoring products and services, however, the College in B.C. is  now suggesting that pharmacists should be involved in the provision of products for ending the life of human beings as well.

The 1st week of May is the scheduled date for certain “trained” pharmacists to  be the providers of the abortifacient Morning After Pill with or without a prescription from a doctor. A recent BC College bulletin article, “Ethics in Practice”, suggests that pharmacists may have a conscientious or moral objection to future services that “might expand to include, preparation of drugs to assist voluntary or involuntary suicide, cloning, genetic manipulation or even execution”. These products  & services and some others mentioned in that article in fact are not necessarily  “recognized” nor “legitimate” services to be expected from a pharmacy.

To supply death causing products and services from a pharmacy (a health care facility)  flies in the face of the promotion of appropriate practices the pharmaceutical profession  has engaged in for the last 15-20years.  These appropriate practices include: encouraging pharmacists to provide more cognitive services, (e.g. being a drug information resource for the community, resolving drug related problems, providing increased patient counselling etc); other practices include, emphasis to provide greater communication with the public and to promote proper pharmaceutical care for all human beings especially those most vulnerable and needing our unique knowledge and     skills. These vulnerable people should include, the child in utero, the elderly and     disabled people.

The push by the College of Pharmacists of BC for pharmacists to supply the controversial products and services, noted above, represents a travesty in health care. It is in direct contradiction to the Hippocratic oath which many noble and honourable medical practitioners have taken and are committed to follow.

The policy decision, named above, of the College of Pharmacists of B.C. should be     withdrawn because it causes a negative influence on organizations who sponsor provision of  pharmaceutical services from their outlets, and a damaging and unhealthy image to our honourable and dignified profession.

It would be much appreciated if these organizations would rather continue to encourage and exhort practitioners in our profession to be the providers of proper pharmaceutical health care services to the public as they have done in the past.

For further information, please call Michael Izzotti, Coordinator, PFLI/Canada, 905-528-4828

British Columbia pharmacists ‘must refer or dispense’

The Canadian Medical Association Journal announced that 500 pharmacists in British Columbia would be dispensing the ‘morning after pill’ without a prescription. A bulletin from the College of Pharmacists of B.C. (March-April 2000) stated that pharmacists with conscientious objections to dispensing the drug would be required to refer patients, or dispense the drug themselves if that was not possible. The bulletin also noted that future pharmacy services might expand to include drugs for suicide, cloning, genetic manipulation or execution.