Pharmacist freedom of conscience recognized in British Columbia

LifeSite News

Steve Weatherbe

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Christian pharmacists in British Columbia can now practice with a clear conscience.

Under the B.C. College of Pharmacy’s new ethics code, they cannot be forced to prescribe for abortions, euthanasia, or artificial contraception.

Cristina Alarcon, a Vancouver-area community pharmacist who was a driving force behind the new code, says it “covers everything.” For the first time, pharmacists can refuse to dispense any prescription that violates their conscience. [Full text]

 

Ellen Wiebe is the doctor seeking a smoother path to assisted death

The Globe and Mail

Elizabeth Church

The physician who helped a Calgary woman with ALS to hasten her death following a court’s approval says more needs to be done to remove roadblocks and prevent unnecessary suffering for those who meet the legal requirements to end their life.

Ellen Wiebe, the Vancouver doctor who was with the woman when she died Monday night, said last-minute difficulties obtaining the necessary drugs and finding a second doctor as required by the court underscore the need for clear professional guidelines and a national directory of those willing to provide a medically assisted death. . . [Full text]

 

Doctor-assisted dying hits logistical hurdle at the pharmacy

Pharmacists have been reluctant to dispense necessary drugs

Vancouver Sun

Jeff Lee

The B.C. doctor who helped an Alberta woman with Lou Gehrig’s Disease end her life said she’s having trouble accessing the medications needed to help patients who want to commit suicide.

Dr. Ellen Wiebe, director of the Willow Women’s Clinic in Vancouver, said she has a second patient seeking a court-ordered exemption that would allow a doctor to assist in her death. But she faced resistance from the B.C. College of Pharmacists, which warned its members as recently as last weekend to seek legal advice if asked to dispense drugs to be used in physician-assisted dying. . . [Full text]

   

Alberta pharmacist vindicated for pro-Life stand

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Mike Mastromatteo

A Calgary pharmacist has reached an agreement with her employer and the Alberta College of Pharmacists that will allow her to refrain from providing customers with prescriptions designed to terminate unborn human life.

Maria Bizecki of the Co-op Pharmacy in Calgary became the subject of an internal review by the Alberta College of Pharmacists last year after she refused to dispense the so-called “morning-after” pill and other products to which she is morally opposed.[Full text]

Project letter to the editor, The Province

There is a whiff of arrogance, as well as intolerance, in the BC College of Pharmacists threat to discipline conscientious objectors (Pharmacists’ college warns renegades about not dispensing morning-after pill, The Province, 23 November, 2000).

While the moral convictions of conscientious objectors are trivialized by describing them as ‘personal’ or ‘private’, many of those convictions are, in fact, shared by millions in religious, philosophical and moral traditions that have existed for millennia. If such convictions are ‘private’, those of the College are not less so, even if dressed up as ‘the ethics of the profession’. Yet the College refuses to explain – or cannot explain – why its newly-minted code of ethics (1997) is morally superior to the moral or ethical systems that it threatens to suppress.

Moreover, it is unclear why the College demands blind faith in the dogmatic judgement of its Ethics Advisory Committee. Among other things, the College has no policy governing qualifications, selection and appointment of ethics committee members, nor does it appear that any of the current committee members have formal qualifications in ethics or related fields.

Finally, the College has not demonstrated that, with respect to a dissenting minority, it is necessary to pursue a policy of institutional aggression rather than accommodation.

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

 

Pharmacists threatened with discipline

The deputy registrar of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has warned that pharmacists who refuse to dispense the ‘morning after pill’ for reasons of conscience are in breach of the College’s code of ethics. She invited anyone refused the pill to report the dissenting pharmacist to the College, presumably with a view to prosecution for a breach of what the deputy registrar called “pharmacy legislation” (The Province). The Project Administrator responded to the article with a letter to the editor.

 

Pharmacists press for freedom of conscience in British Columbia

A resolution that would allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing morally controversial products such as the Morning After Pill gained substantial support from pharmacists at the Annual General Meeting of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia in Vancouver on October 12th. A news release from Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience noted that the loss of the show of hands vote was seen not as a defeat, but as a sign that more work is necessary.

 

B.C. Pharmacist representing “conscientious objectors” at AGM wins substantial support from colleagues

News Release

Concerned Pharmacists for  Conscience in BC

A resolution that would allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing morally controversial products such as the Morning After Pill gained substantial support from pharmacists at the AGM of B.C. Pharmacists on October 12th.

A number of pharmacists took to the microphone to voice their strong support; only one pharmacist spoke in opposition. Although the preliminary show-of -hands vote was not won, supporters of the resolution do not see this as a defeat, but simply as a sign that more work needs to be done.

At best, the current Code of Ethics for pharmacists acknowledges that some members may run into moral dilemmas, but does not provide accommodation for conscientious objectors.

“It is ironic that the B.C. Health Minister wants to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies while our Premier wants pharmacists to give out the morning after pill like candy. Scientifically, this is an abortion causing drug developed primarily to act against implantation of a live human embryo in vivo. It is a product that professional pharmacists may refuse to dispense for medical, ethical reasons, or on moral or religious grounds, not to mention liability concerns and the possibility of having angry parents of teenagers coming after us. We still do not know long -term effects of repeated use of the morning after pill, but we do know that these high doses of hormones have been strongly linked to breast cancer. We will be using our young women as guinea pigs,” says Cristina Alarcon, British Columbia representative for a group called Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience.

” Regardless of where you stand on the moral issues surrounding abortifacient use, pharmacists who do not wish to participate must be respected and should not be FORCED to refer”, says Alarcon.

Miss Alarcon made the opening remarks at the AGM in support of the resolution that would recognize a pharmacist’s right to refuse a prescription on moral grounds.

” Conscientious objectors simply want to exercise the right to not participate in morally objectionable treatments and the right to freedom of conscience in matters that pertain to morals and religion in accordance with Canadian Human Rights jurisprudence. We do not claim to have a monopoly on the profession, and we are not blocking access nor infringing on a patient’s ” right to choose”. Furthermore, with the dawn of ever more controversial “treatments”, such as euthanasia,

RU-486, genetic manipulation , and execution (as referred to in our Mar/Apr College bulletin), health care workers are in greater need of Conscience Clause Legislation in this country. This is what I am fighting for,” she continues; “If we are to act in the public’s best interests, we must act freely and responsibly, and not as coerced automatons as our College currently mandates, nor as dispensing machines.

For further information, please call Miss Cristina Alarcon, at 604-222-8317 or at 604-974-0993 ext. 1232

Project letter to the editor, The Winnipeg Sun

As submitted

I am pleased to see that the Winnipeg Sun supports the principle that people should not have to dispense products that they find morally offensive. Your editorial (Pharmacological farce, 6 June, 2000) makes clear that conscientious objectors who refuse to sell cigarettes can count on your support, even though cigarettes are legal in Canada.

What remains unclear are the reasons why you insist on a two-tiered system of civil rights with respect to freedom of conscience: full rights for people who agree with you, like those who would refuse to sell cigarettes, and none for those who do not agree with you, like Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience.

However, the fact that you support the principle with respect to like-minded individuals suggests that a more tolerant and liberal attitude toward others may eventually prevail.

Contrary to the dismissive comment in your editorial, concerns that pharmacists may be forced to dispense drugs for assisted suicide and euthanasia are not misplaced. The College of Pharmacists of BC has put its members on notice about such possibilities. Legalization of assisted suicide, as well as execution by lethal injection, have led some pharmacists’ associations in the United States to adopt policies to protect conscientious objectors.

An attempt to force moral beliefs upon the populace? While that may be a fitting description of the Sun’s editorial, it is not the position of conscientious objectors. They simply do not wish to have the private morality of drug companies and newspaper editors forced upon them.

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project


As Published

Objection sustained

I am pleased The Winnipeg Sun supports the principle that people should not have to dispense products they find morally offensive. Pharmacological Farce, June 6, makes clear that conscientious objectors who refuse to sell cigarettes can count on your support.

Why do you insist on full rights for people who agree with you, like those who won’t sell cigarettes, and none for those who do not agree with you, such as Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience.

The B.C. College of Pharmacists has warned members about the possibility of being forced to dispense drugs for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Legalizing assisted suicide and execution by lethal injection led U.S. pharmacist associations to protect conscientious objectors.

Conscientious objectors aren’t trying to force moral beliefs upon others. They simply do not wish to have the private morality of drug companies and newspaper editors forced upon them.

Pharmacy colleges quash conscientious objection

Canada

Greg J. Edwards

Pharmacists are critically thinking individuals who integrate their values into their work life-and they are not mere robots who are glorified order-takers for physicians. We should be promoting such thinking, not punishing it.–Nancy Metcalfe, pharmacist

Pharmacists are said to be the most trusted professionals in medicine; they’re conscientious; we rely on their discretion and their judgment; they have our confidence; we respect them; but do pharmacists respect themselves, let alone one another?

It’s a good question, because in Canada, pharmacists, unlike doctors, find that conscientious objection is a bitter pill for their professional licensing organizations to swallow.

The pharmacists’ governors pay lip service to a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense products, but, in fact, a customer’s convenience trumps a pharmacist’s freedoms of conscience and religion: pharmacists are free to object but in the end they must refer or otherwise help customers get the objectionable product. [Full text]