Catholic Teaching for Pharmicists


I have been trying to find out more information on exactly what the Church teaches in regards to pharmaceuticals. I know very well the teachings of *Humanae Vitae * and have been in classes studying Christopher West’s Good News About Sex and Marriage, but I’m a new pharmacy technician and was wondering how to handle situations that could be controversial, such as selling birth control and other abortificents. I have no problem standing up for my faith, as I was fired from my previous job for being pro-life in regards to Planned Parenthood, but I want to know how to tell the difference between someone who sincerely needs a medicine (i.e. birth control) for medicinal needs rather than just someone who is trying to avoid getting pregnant, and what to do in that situation.

Thanks and God Bless!


There’s no way for you to know that.


Let me clarify my question then:
Since there is no way to tell the difference, should I act on the side of being safe and refuse birth control to everyone or give everyone the benefit of the doubt? What is the church’s stance on these situations?


Check with your local Bishop - he will have a clear set of guidelines for you to follow.

Thank you for caring. :thumbsup:


I’m afraid that info is none of your business, If you think you really feel that you are entitled to know just because you work there, then you might be better suited to a different type of job.

Nothing personal, but I am one of those people who would have you fired on the spot for refusing to sell me something for which I had a prescription. In my own personal medical situation, I don’t take advice of any nature from anyone other than my doctor.

With all due respect, a pro-life pharmacy tech does NOT know more than an Medical doctor.

I applaud your cause, but if I were you, I would consider a job change.



If I were you I would not consider a job change. While you might not be able to tell whether or not someone needs the birth control pills for medical reasons or not you can most certainly tell what ECs and Condoms are used for - stand up for your beliefs. Stand up for the truth.



Rape victims?


Since when did you have to go to the pharmacist’s window to get condoms? Aren’t they just lying out in the aisles?

Does the Church encourage those employed as cashiers to refuse to ring up condoms? I imagine that’d leave a great many younger members going from job to job every week, if not more frequently.


If I were a pharmacist, cashier whatever I most certainly would refuse to sell condoms - I might even try to evangelise the person who was trying to sell them. And if the employer would fire me - well then it shows that not enough catholic cashiers are doing their job (spiritually speaking).



Contraception and abortion - both of which are mortal sins.



At least your hypothetical employer would be doing his job by firing you and hiring somebody who would actually make him money :shrug:

I respect a doctor’s burden of conscience when it comes to prescribing medicines, but it is not the job of pharmacists or cashiers to enforce conscience. Their job is to dispense what the doctor has said needs to be dispensed.


Not spirtually though - and in any case I doubt I’d get fired if all the catholics who worked those positions were to stand up for their beliefs (or those that they should hold). Apparently 20% of the USA is “catholic” - what a difference it would make it they all made their stand. All lived their faith.



Your questions delve into Catholic moral theology, for which I believe most all of us on these forums can’t adequetely give answers for all of your questions. Perhaps you need to contact the experts at the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC)…

The National Catholic Bioethics Center
6399 Drexel Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19151
(215) 877-2660
(215) 877-2688
or at


should I act on the side of being safe and refuse birth control to everyone


Can you reasonably give everyone the benefit of the doubt? Only 25% of your country is Catholic, and less than half of those practice the faith; that means that 90% of your customers believe that contraception is morally acceptable. And let’s face it, a VERY small percentage of people using birth control require it for medical reasons.


I had a workmate who called himself a Christian but didn’t attend any Church.He once called a well-known female athlete a bad name because she got an abortion to ensure her career could continue.However,the same guy bashed a catholic doctor for refusing to prescribe artificial contraception."The law allowed it"said he.Therefore the doctor should be obliged to obey the law.It didn’t seem to occur to him that the law allowed abortion as well.
What if the law at a later date decides to legalize something which is forbidden at the present time?In the UK,there are those who would like the law changed so that,because of spiralling health costs,doctors should be able to deny people treatment if their illness has been brought on by their lifestyle.That is,excessive smoking and drinking,or over-eating.The doctors would be able to give priority to those who are not so guilty of excesses.
I bet there would be many non-religious types who would be trying to get us to break the law,that doctors had too much power.
The idea that a pharmacist shouldn’t be able to refuse what the infallible doctor has prescribed is not at all convincing.Isn’t it doctors who decide that people like Terry Schiavo can be starved to death?


No, that was a judge.


And if you take this advice, I recommend finding another job, because you do not have the right to inflict your personal moral stance on others who are acting legally – and your boss will realize that pretty quickly. You’ll be looking either way, so you might as well save yourself the trouble.



Your right to refuse to dispense medications is limited by your position. If you were a Pharmacist (PharmD and in essence, your own boss) then your position would be more solidified. However, as a pharmacy tech, you do perform the job function of any other retail clerk when you tell a patient/client/customer how much they owe for services rendered and take their money. This facility may or may not give you the right to refuse sale. Check with your employer and State to see if your primary job function as a cashier gives you the right to refuse to sell.Some states do have a “conscience clause” in re: Pharmacists’ rights to refuse to dispense meds (see If you reside in one of these states then you’re within your legal right to exercise your moral judgment.


No hypothetical here, I am a pharmacist. How can you separate a doctor’s “burden of conscience” from that of a pharmacist? I took an oath, much like medical doctors do, in which I swore to “do know harm”. I, and only I, determine what I believe to constitute harm.

Think of it this way. An MD is pro-life. He CHOOSES not to write prescriptions that conflict with his beliefs. You have no problem with that. On the other hand, I am a pharmacist. I am pro-life. I CHOOSE not to fill prescriptions that conflict with my beliefs. That seems to bother you?
The doctor has every right to listen to his conscience, and so do I.

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