Pharmacists and Conscience

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photoAcross the country, pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills on personal moral and ethical grounds.

Since the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade case, states have passed so-called "conscience-clause" laws that allow health care professionals to opt out of performing abortions or sterilization procedures. Now, lawmakers in 13 states are considering extending these laws to inlcude pharmacists.

Patient-privacy rights advocates argue that the job of a pharmacist is to fill a doctor's prescription and not act as an arbiter of morality for his costumers. Last week, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an emergency rule ordering state pharmacies to fill birth-control prescriptions. In California, state lawmakers have been holding hearings on legislation that would require pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.

Hear about the debate over pharmacists' rights to follow their conscience versus patients' rights of privacy.


Jordan Rau, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.;
Karen Romano, a Los Angeles woman whose pharmacist last November balked at filling a prescription for Misoprostol.

Lloyd DuPlantis Jr., pharmacist who refused to dispense birth control medication, so he opened his own shop in Gray, Louisiana.;Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.;
Karen Pearl, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.;Ed Martin, director of the Americans United for Life Center for the Right of Conscience. He is also advisor on right-to-refuse legislation in Missouri and South Dakota.

This program aired on April 5, 2005.


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