American Center for Law and Justice
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) recently represented a pharmacist in Virginia who was the subject of a formal complaint and investigation owing to her refusal to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives due to their abortifacient properties. We are glad to report that the investigation has been resolved in her favor.
While oral contraceptives are intended to prevent ovulation, they also have a secondary mechanism of action that attempts to end pregnancy after fertilization occurs. Many individuals, including many pharmacists, believe that this post-fertilization action is immoral because it intentionally ends a human life, and also believe that its morally impermissible to personally facilitate such activity.
Earlier this year, an individual contacted our client to request a refill for oral contraceptives. The pharmacist said that the individual could have the prescription filled two days later by someone else, but she was not comfortable dispensing it herself due to the drug’s abortifacient properties (acting post-fertilization). The pharmacist felt that it was her professional obligation to make sure that the individual was aware of how the prescribed drug works in light of the fact that many women object on religious or moral grounds to taking it once they understand how it works.
Shortly thereafter on the same day, the individual’s father called our client and angrily questioned her about her refusal to fill the prescription. He also claimed that oral contraceptives never act post-fertilization and warned her that he was going to make her life “a living hell.” . . . [Full Text]
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]
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that intra-uterine devices, DMPA injections and contraceptive implants are significantly more effective than birth control pills, patches or rings.
Brooke Winner, M.D., et al, Effectiveness of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1998-2007
1 St. Louis U. J. Health L. & Pol’y 337, 337-40 (2008)
Jennifer E. Spreng
Introduction: The United States Food and Drug Administration’s decisions in the past decade to approve both RU-486 and Plan B have created crises of conscience for some religious pharmacists. RU-486 induces abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy without surgical intervention and Plan B is a two-pill “emergency contraceptive” regimen that may have abortifacient properties. Some religious pharmacists prefer not to dispense the drugs because their religious scruples forbid them from participating in abortions. Some also object to dispensing daily oral contraceptives6 on the same basis. [Full Text]
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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]
Before the Assembly Labour Committee
Susan Grosskreuz, R.Ph.
Although there is an extremely high demand for pharmacists in our state, I have had to be very selective as to where I am willing to work because I cannot go against my conscience. . . Although pharmacy jobs in the retail sector were generally plentiful . . . I accepted a position at a newly created pharmacy . . .that served only nursing home patients. . . . I actually would have preferred working in the retail sector but I didn’t feel I had any protection if I requested to refrain from filling prescriptions that had abortifacient potential. [Full Text]
T. Everett Julyan, MBChB BSc *
INTRODUCTION The practice of discriminating between applicants for posts within obstetrics and gynaecology on the basis of their beliefs about the status of the embryo is becoming increasingly common. This affects not only the individual discriminated against, but also medicine and society as a whole. When this discrimination is faced because of a desire to please the God of the Bible it is more accurately described as persecution (Matthew 5:10-12).
EFFECTS ON THE INDIVIDUAL The effects of this persecution on the individual may be vocational, social, financial, emotional or spiritual. These include influencing ultimate choice of career, rejection by colleagues, unemployment in extreme cases, disappointment, disillusionment and temptation towards compromise. The only positives may be the maintenance of personal integrity and promise of heavenly reward.
EFFECTS ON MEDICINE & SOCIETY Excluding all those who refuse to end a human life simply because its existence happens to be inconvenient to another does medicine a disservice. It is antithetical to historical medicine which calls for self-sacrifice on the part of the doctor in order to preserve the patient according to an established ethical code. It seems that contemporary medicine only wants doctors who follow the status quo by changing their ethical framework to suit the wishes of their patients. The logical outcome of this kind of thinking is that autonomy may be considered to be of greater value than human life in a variety of clinical situations. But medical practice will become unethical if doctors are expected to give treatment which they consider to be inappropriate, such as killing an unborn child. The practice of medicine is in danger of becoming a commodity marketed with the expedient business ethic of supply on demand, where the value of human life can fluctuate as a relative integer. Denying employment to those who seek to preserve life instead of destroying it is a logical step of pragmatism in a culture where abortion is on demand. But medicine should not be a business designed to supply every demand indiscriminately when the demand may not be in the patient’s best interests. If medicine evolves by defining good practice simply as what the patient wants then society will ultimately become a victim of its own unethical requests (cf. Romans 1:28-32).
CONCLUSION Discrimination against those who refuse to include ending human life as part of their job description is becoming increasingly common. However, this serves neither doctors nor patients and is a symptom of a relativistic view of medical ethics. Its detrimental effects are far-reaching, affecting individuals, the medical profession and society in general. Those who see the dangers in this trend have a duty to protect society, the future of medicine, their colleagues and themselves from wrongly redefining beneficence and non-maleficence. [Full text]
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A
Karen L. Brauer M.S. R.Ph*
I was fired from my position as a pharmacist with the KMart Corporation for refusal to dispense Micronor, a progestin-only “minipill”, for the purpose of birth control.
. . . My name is Karen L. Brauer. My “alphabet soup” is M.S. R.Ph., and I am a practicing community pharmacist. Prior to this (my favorite) career, I had enjoyed a brief time in the field of medical research. On December 19, 1996, I was fired from my position as a pharmacist with the KMart Corporation for refusal to dispense Micronor, a progestin-only “minipill”, for the purpose of birth control.
My opinion of this form of birth control was formed 20 years ago, because that is when I became aware of its most prominent mechanism to prevent implantation (as distinguished from a primarily contraceptive mechanism). My instructors in dispensing lab at pharmacy school were made aware of my opinion of this type of birth control, as was the District Manager who hired me to work for KMart. For the seven years that I worked for KMart, I turned away prescriptions for progestin only birth control, more often than not, talking the women out of filling the prescription at all. The Greater Cincinnati Area is a very conservative part of the country, and “minipills” were never very hot sellers here. [Full Text]