Pharmacist refuses to give mother, 38, contraceptive pills for period pain 'because of her religion'

Am I the only one who finds this statement inconsistent at best?

The spokesman said:'While the Code of Ethics and Standards does not require a pharmacist to provide a service that is contrary to their religious or moral beliefs, any attempt by a pharmacist to impose their beliefs on a member of the public seeking their professional guidance, or a failure to have systems in place to advise of alternative sources for the service required, would be of great concern to the RPSGB and could form the basis of a complaint of professional misconduct.'

How can one refuse to provide a service that is contrary to their religious or moral beliefs and not impose their beliefs on a member of the public?

Peace

Tim

It’s poorly worded certainly. We don’t have all the facts of this case at our disposal so we have no way of knowing exactly how the customer or pharmacist behaved but the rule is that a pharamcist may politely refuse but must provide details of where the service can be provided elsewhere. A Muslim pharamacist refused to provide contraceptives as I recall also and his position was actually upheld in the resulting investigation as it turned out he had merely politely explained why he could not provide the service but given the address of a nearby pharmacy who would do so.

From the article it’s interesting to note how the woman in question goes on about her kids needing contraceptive pills in case they become pregnant and how this is neccesary. The Daily Mail is generally a trashy paper but it does indirectly touch on a subject of real concern here in Britain there. The fact that the teenage pregnancy rate in the UK is the worst in Europe and that many young teenage girls have babies without partners and become locked into poverty stricken existences as a result.

In the USA, this is not necessarily true.

My favorite pharmacy in New Orleans, a private pharmacy plastered all over with Bible quotes and Christian inspirational texts, does not carry any stuff that they consider immoral, and will not help you find another place where you can get such stuff. It’s a private business, and this is how they set their policy. Think of a vegetarian restaurant, Kosher restaurant, or Muslim restaurant - nobody can force them to cook meat or pork for you, or serve you with alcohol, if they don’t want to.

Also, at government entities within the USA, such as pharmacies within the VA system, there are conscience protection laws in place to protect those pharmacists who don’t want to get involved with stuff that they consider immoral. Same thing with doctors and other healthcare workers who refuse to perform immoral procedures at government-run hospitals - there are conscience protection laws in place for them, too. Just because a woman wants to get an abortion, or an LGBT person wants to get advised in a way that affirms his/her homosexual lifestyle, this person cannot ever force a health professional at a governmental facility to do that against the provider person’s own moral conscience.

Now with the government-run pharmacies in the USA, conscience protection includes the pharmacist’s right not to go into any details beyond refusing to dispense a drug against his/her moral beliefs. No duty to give the name of another pharmacist, or the address of another pharmacy, where they can give you birth control pills, condoms, abortive drugs, poisons for euthanasia and assisted suicide, etc. And this is obviously also the case with private pharmacies that decide to have such policy. If I would own and operate a pharmacy of my own, and a customer would walk in, asking for birth control pills, I would have no legal obligation whatsoever to help this customer, by giving them the address or phone number of another pharmacy that carries birth control pills. I would simply and politely tell them that we do not sell birth control pills, and that’s it, end of conversation.

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:8, topic:189982"]
She needs to get another job. She knew damn well when she became a pharmacist that she was going to be asked to fill these kinds of scripts.

[/quote]

I think the pharmacist was likely trying to be confrontational in the name of religious freedom. After all, prescriptions are filled every day for reproductive related issues. Surely she knew this when deciding to study for her chosen profession.

I don’t think becoming a pharmacist should require that a person suspend their religious beliefs. As long as another druggist/chemist/pharmacist is available with minimal inconvenience, I think the religious clause is reasonable. It might be one thing if the pharmacist was the only provider in town and no other sources were within an hour’s travel, but Sheffield is a large city and I doubt that was the case here.

That’s one way to look at it. The other way to look at it is to say that the responsibility of a pharmacist is to fill a prescription that was given to a patient by their doctor. The pharmacist refused to do their job.

[quote="Christopher68, post:25, topic:189982"]
I think the pharmacist was likely trying to be confrontational in the name of religious freedom. After all, prescriptions are filled every day for reproductive related issues. Surely she knew this when deciding to study for her chosen profession.

[/quote]

I don't know about that pharmacist in the story, but it's not necessarily that the pharmacist enjoys the confrontation, or enjoys picking a fight with the patient.

Imagine that you own and operate a general store, and you sell tobacco. Then, a friend who is a heavy smoker, is suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer, and dies within a few months. You stop selling tobacco. It doesn't make you happy to say no to customers who want to buy tobacco. And you know that they will probably buy their tobacco elsewhere. But you cannot bring yourself to sell tobacco again, after what happened to your friend.

Or, maybe, you were just raised by your parents that way, that tobacco is bad. You inherited the store from your parents, and now you carry on the family tradition of not selling tobacco. You are not trying to pick a fight with anyone, and you don't enjoy

[quote="Joseph_L_Varga, post:28, topic:189982"]
I don't know about that pharmacist in the story, but it's not necessarily that the pharmacist enjoys the confrontation, or enjoys picking a fight with the patient.

Imagine that you own and operate a general store, and you sell tobacco. Then, a friend who is a heavy smoker, is suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer, and dies within a few months. You stop selling tobacco. It doesn't make you happy to say no to customers who want to buy tobacco. And you know that they will probably buy their tobacco elsewhere. But you cannot bring yourself to sell tobacco again, after what happened to your friend.

Or, maybe, you were just raised by your parents that way, that tobacco is bad. You inherited the store from your parents, and now you carry on the family tradition of not selling tobacco. You are not trying to pick a fight with anyone, and you don't enjoy

[/quote]

I understand the analogy you are making. I would say that there is a difference between a general store, which by definition may or may not offer the products you are seeking, and that of a pharmacy, which by definition stocks medications commonly prescribed by physicians.

I believe one cause of trivial incidents making the news is because they need fillers, during a period when they do not have much of substantial or breaking news.

For example, when Mother Teresa died, it is said that her death did not get as much spotlight as it probably would have, because Princess Diana died just days after, and that got more attention and coverage, especially because it was a “case” I suppose.

I'm a pharmacist in the US, and this is by no means a unique situation here and, I would assume, abroad. I've heard some say that you "shouldn't be a pharmacist" if you don't want to dispense certain medications. Others suggest that you should find a job in pharmacy where you don't dispense those drugs to which you object (for example, nursing homes, parts of the pharmaceutical industry, etc).

However, to me, seeing through these arguments, I see them essentially saying, "If you don't have the same beliefs as me, you shouldn't be a pharmacist." The desire for homogeneity is astounding.

I respect the right of the pharmacist to refuse to sell. However, I also recognize the rights of businesses to not hire someone whose beliefs would interfere with the tasks that their job requires. This applies to pharmacies as well. If Jim's Corner Drug wants to sell contraceptives, and wants every pharmacist who works there to sell them, I have no objection to the employer dictating that at the time of employment. Similarly, I believe that a pharmacist who has an objection to contraceptives should be up front about their objections when interviewing.

On the other hand, I also think private businesses have the right to stock or not stock products. If a pharmacy decides it doesn't want to carry contraceptives, Plan B, condoms, or Lipitor, that is within their rights as well. The government has no right to dictate that a pharmacy must stock Plan B any more than it has the right to tell a hardware store it must stock hammers. I've worked in a couple of different pharmacies. All of them carry contraception. Only one carries Plan B. The others never sell it, not because of moral objections, but because their patient population doesn't ask for it.

I dispense oral contraceptives on a regular basis. There are many legitimate non-contraceptive uses for hormonal "birth control" pills. Often, the pharmacist is unable to determine the reason for use, and often they have multiple reasons.

Furthermore, refusing to dispense does little to actually impact patient choices. It will generally make someone angry, and they will just storm out, cross the street, and get it filled somewhere else. You burn a bridge and lose the ability to influence that patient by outright refusing to fill the prescription.

If you want to get someone to not take birth control, a better option is to actually tell them the risks (and benefits) of birth control, and make them aware of alternatives, while showing that you are willing to let them make the choice. The reality is that they will fill that prescription if they want to fill it. Sending them somewhere else just means they will fill it without getting the full-service concern and education that a pharmacist can provide if they take the time.

I'm sure that some call that aiding and abetting, but when you can see another pharmacy out the window, it is hard to say you have really done anything for the pro-life cause if you just say no and alienate that person. I can sleep better at night knowing that my patients get the full story to make their decision, rather than the "sign here to waive counseling" I know my neighbors will give them.

This seems to me to be a reasonable suggestion.
This medication is legal - the patient needed it to control pain - so isn’t it between the doctor and the patient?
I would think that there would be some pharmacy kind of rules to provide what the patient needs - I know that they have to consider if the patient is abusing drugs, but to refuse this medication seems unreasonable.

I think a company (CVS or Walgreen) could have some policy about the morning after pills - that would be great - they could publish that and it could be a company wide policy, but as has been said the pill is used to treat many medical conditions.

Usually when the Pill is prescribed for “other” reasons, either there are other meds available (how many young men are prescribed the Pill for their acne?) or it is just treating the symptoms without discovering the underlying cause.

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:8, topic:189982"]
She needs to get another job. She knew damn well when she became a pharmacist that she was going to be asked to fill these kinds of scripts.

[/quote]

Murder is murder, whether it is legal or not. Using the excuse, "It's my job" doesn't cut it.

Where is that someone can go to jail for refusing to take a life?

Must she also fill a prescription for Plan B or RU-486, which explicitly and directly are always intended to end developing human life?

Must a medical student planning to become an OB/GYN perform abortions?

Must Catholic hospitals provide abortions, contraception, tubal ligations and vasectomies?

Does one’s ability to live by the dictates of their own conscience end when they enter the medical profession (or any other service field)?

A patient can almost always receive the treatment they seek from another doctor, so this really isn’t an issue. In the one-on-one situation where the conscience rights of a doctor or pharmacist are pitted against the treatment rights of a patient, I think we need to side with the conscience rights of the provider, as the patient can receive the treatment they desire elsewhere.

[quote="Rach620, post:36, topic:189982"]
Must she also fill a prescription for Plan B or RU-486, which explicitly and directly are always intended to end developing human life?

[/quote]

If you have ethical problems with work as a pharmacist then you should look for another line of work.

A prescription for a treatment is between the doctor and the patient, regulated by society.

If someone claimed their religious or moral beliefs prevented them from checking in a newly married gay couple from a state where it is legal, the newly weds should not be inconvenienced.

Nor should a patient. In some cases it'd be even more than an inconvenience since the window for RU-486 is narrow.

So, in other words, medical professionals do not have conscience protections. Where did they give that up? And why is it that we want physicians to be “ethical”–but only if they are the “right,” socially-approved ethics? So much for authenticity. So much for doing what one believes is right. This whole outlook treats medical professionals not as highly-trained ethical decision-makers who we ask to use their best judgment to provide the best treatment, but as robots from whom we receive necessary medical care.

What about in other situations, apart from the contraception/abortion debate? End-of-life decisions, assisted suicide, euthanasia. Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, for example, and there is a protocol in place whereby the circumstances in which a newborn may be euthanized is legally acceptable. Does a doctor in those circumstances have any right to refuse to euthanize an infant, even if the parents request it?

This sounds awfully similar to what Martha Coakley said back in January–Catholics shouldn’t work in emergency rooms if they have a problem giving Plan B to a rape victim. When Catholic hospitals are forced out of business because their right to refuse to provide treatments antithetical to their moral beliefs is taken away, every American will be negatively affected. Catholic doctors, nurses, hospitals, and yes, pharmacists, serve millions of Americans every day. Why is their moral freedom less important than patient choice?

[quote="mike14620, post:31, topic:189982"]
I'm a pharmacist in the US, and this is by no means a unique situation here and, I would assume, abroad. I've heard some say that you "shouldn't be a pharmacist" if you don't want to dispense certain medications. Others suggest that you should find a job in pharmacy where you don't dispense those drugs to which you object (for example, nursing homes, parts of the pharmaceutical industry, etc).

However, to me, seeing through these arguments, I see them essentially saying, "If you don't have the same beliefs as me, you shouldn't be a pharmacist." The desire for homogeneity is astounding.

I respect the right of the pharmacist to refuse to sell. However, I also recognize the rights of businesses to not hire someone whose beliefs would interfere with the tasks that their job requires. This applies to pharmacies as well. If Jim's Corner Drug wants to sell contraceptives, and wants every pharmacist who works there to sell them, I have no objection to the employer dictating that at the time of employment. Similarly, I believe that a pharmacist who has an objection to contraceptives should be up front about their objections when interviewing.

On the other hand, I also think private businesses have the right to stock or not stock products. If a pharmacy decides it doesn't want to carry contraceptives, Plan B, condoms, or Lipitor, that is within their rights as well. The government has no right to dictate that a pharmacy must stock Plan B any more than it has the right to tell a hardware store it must stock hammers. I've worked in a couple of different pharmacies. All of them carry contraception. Only one carries Plan B. The others never sell it, not because of moral objections, but because their patient population doesn't ask for it.

I dispense oral contraceptives on a regular basis. There are many legitimate non-contraceptive uses for hormonal "birth control" pills. Often, the pharmacist is unable to determine the reason for use, and often they have multiple reasons.

Furthermore, refusing to dispense does little to actually impact patient choices. It will generally make someone angry, and they will just storm out, cross the street, and get it filled somewhere else. You burn a bridge and lose the ability to influence that patient by outright refusing to fill the prescription.

If you want to get someone to not take birth control, a better option is to actually tell them the risks (and benefits) of birth control, and make them aware of alternatives, while showing that you are willing to let them make the choice. The reality is that they will fill that prescription if they want to fill it. Sending them somewhere else just means they will fill it without getting the full-service concern and education that a pharmacist can provide if they take the time.

I'm sure that some call that aiding and abetting, but when you can see another pharmacy out the window, it is hard to say you have really done anything for the pro-life cause if you just say no and alienate that person. I can sleep better at night knowing that my patients get the full story to make their decision, rather than the "sign here to waive counseling" I know my neighbors will give them.

[/quote]

This is one of the most sensible posts I have heard tonight. Thank You! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

When I worked for a doctor’s office, I was in charge of hiring and firing, among other things. I simply would not hire someone not able to do the job, the complete job. If someone had a problem handing a pt a box of contraceptives, they need not apply. I don’t have to have two people working a shift because one won’t do the job, so that the other has to be there to do it for them.

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