Monday, March 14, 2005

And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill

I remembered reading about this several months ago, and was just starting to wonder if a decision would ever be reached regarding the pharmacist who refused to fill a valid prescription for birth control pills. I could say more, but this Capital Times editorial says it quite well. I've posted the first part, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Pharmacist oversteps bounds by playing God

By Joel McNally
March 12, 2005

We all have a right to follow our own religious or moral beliefs in our daily lives. That's part of being a good person.

But there's nothing religious, moral or even particularly good about claiming to be gods ourselves and trying to impose our own personal beliefs on everybody else. That's the height of human arrogance.

That's why it's a complete misnomer to say that a pharmacist who refuses to provide health care is following his conscience.

Conscientious pharmacists do not jeopardize the health needs of patients. They do not refuse to do their job of dispensing legitimately prescribed drugs.

If there are pharmacists whose personal religious beliefs forbid providing medication to heal sickness and preserve health, they've made a very bad career choice.

It's not only bad for them. It's bad for those unfortunate patients who find themselves at the mercy of these self-appointed gods.

That's why an administrative law judge for the state Department of Regulation and Licensing properly recommended discipline for a pharmacist who refused to dispense birth control pills to a coed at the University of Wisconsin- Stout.

After grilling the student about whether she intended to use the pills for contraception, the pharmacist not only refused to fill a doctor's prescription, but also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy where it could be filled by a conscientious pharmacist.

The administrative law judge recommended that the pharmacist, Neil Noesen, be reprimanded for violating the code of ethics for pharmacists and spend six hours in ethics education.

The pharmacist also would be required to provide written notice to any employer specifying any medications he would refuse to dispense and what steps he would take to assure that patients who needed those medications would still be able to receive them.