Jumat, 03 Agustus 2007

Pharmacists Sue over 'Morning-After' Pill

Last year the federal Food and Drug Administration made the ‘morning-after’ contraceptive pill known as Plan B available without a prescription. So can a pharmacist who sees the pill as tantamount to abortion and who objects on moral or religious grounds refuse to sell it? In Washington State, the answer is no. The State of Washington passed a regulation recently that requires pharmacies to sell the pill, arguing that individual pharmacists cannot stand in the way of patients’ rights to a perfectly legal drug. Last month two Washington pharmacists sued in federal court over the issue, arguing that the regulation forces them to choose between their jobs and their “deeply held religious and moral beliefs”. The case is pending.

In fact, a compromise of sorts had already been worked out between the governor and the state Board of Pharmacy even before the lawsuit. In the compromise, a pharmacist with personal objections to selling the drug is free to get a co-worker to fill an order. But that only works if a co-worker is available - the patient must not be inconvenienced by having to make a second visit. And not all pharmacies have at least two staff members on duty at all times.

Apparently this is becoming an issue in many states. Four states (Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota) have specific policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to sell contraceptives if they wish. On the other hand, pharmacists in California can only refuse to sell contraceptives when their employer approves and when the woman can still get her prescription filled in a timely manner. That sounds a lot like the new Washington law. It’ll be interesting to see how the legal challenge in Washington comes out.

What do YOU think?

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