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News of the Day ... in Perspective

4/6/2005

Pharmacists caught in abortion-rights dispute

As four more states—Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Dakota—protect the rights of pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions about which they have moral qualms, abortion-rights groups target other states.

California legislators are considering the nation’s first law requiring pharmacists to fill “emergency contraception” prescriptions or other medications even if they believe them to be immoral. Another proposal would permit pharmacists to demur only if the store could assure that someone else would fill the prescription without “excessive inconvenience” to the patient (LA Times 4/5/05).

Legislators in Missouri, New Jersey, and West Virginia are also under pressure to pass “professional duty” laws.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a 150-day emergency order that would require pharmacists to fill contraceptive prescriptions, after a Chicago druggist refused to fill two customers’ “morning after” prescriptions. The drug store could be fined, lose its license, or be reprimanded. The governor also set up a toll-free hotline for complaints. The rule could conflict with the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

During the last year, the number of pharmacists who want to opt out of providing drugs that may act as abortifacients is on the rise.

The legalization of physician-assisted suicide could add another category of drugs that pharmacists find morally repugnant.

Additional information:

Pharmacists for Life International

Summary of pending state legislation and grassroots abortion-rights activism

News of the Day Archive