REJECT the Board of Pharmacy's Draft Rule: This new draft rule does not support the right of a pharmacist to act according to his/her conscience. You may view this draft here: Pharmacies Responsibilities WAC 246-869-010
SUPPORT the re-adopt of their June 1st Draft of Rules: This was the first draft of rules they composed and adopted on June 1, 2006. However, due to pressure from special interest groups, this draft was revised to Pharmacies Responsibilities WAC 246-869-010
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Only make "recommendations" and not "mandates": In addition to current laws, hospitals and pharmacies have policies that support the right to conscience for pharmacists.
I am writing to you to state my SUPPORT for a Conscience Clause for WA pharmacists. Unfortunately, many are still confused about this issue. The REAL issue is a conscience issue. It is about protecting pharmacists’ basic human right to exercise their conscience.
The United States has long recognized the right of its citizens to exercise their conscience in the face of laws that contravene their religious beliefs. Individuals do not lose this right once they enter the health profession. In order to fully protect pharmacists, this civil right must extend to pharmacists who may be requested to dispense a drug to which they conscientiously object. We have a tradition and a body of constitutional law that have protected the right to act in accord with one's conscience.
Legal recognition of the civil rights of pharmacists in no way infringes on the rights of patients. Access to health care is a right that I strongly support. Patients do have a right to receive health care services, but they do not have a right to force any particular individual to provide them. Forcing pharmacists to choose between conscience and government places them in the untenable position of violating the civil law or violating their conscience. I ask that you respect the religious freedom founded in our law and enact a conscience clause for pharmacists. I thank you in advance for your willingness to consider my concerns.
The right to follow the dictates of one's conscience and religion is an inalienable right, fundamental to American law and society.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" --Bill of Rights, First Amendment
"[O]ur rules can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God." --Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 17, p. 159, ed. William Peden (1954).
There are medications and medical procedures that are subject to controversy regarding the ethics of their use. Every health care provider must answer to their own conscience for their actions; therefore.... "The Civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, be infringed." --James Madison (First draft of the First Amendment, June 8, 1789.)
Physicians do not have to perform abortions, prescribe lethal medications for assisted suicide, prescribe birth control pills or emergency contraception, or act in any other way which conflicts with their conscience or, in their professional opinion, with good medical practice. Nor do they need to refer patients for procedures or medications that they consider unethical, as referral is a component of participation. Pharmacists are a vital part of the health care team, and are entitled to similar rights of conscience.
In Washington State, pharmacists may take on another role besides filling prescriptions. They may be the only type of health care professional that a patient contacts when obtaining emergency contraception. This places the pharmacist in the position of being asked to dispense a medication attendant with ethical controversy and potential health risks for the women involved.
The mechanism of action of emergency contraception is unclear. Since one cannot rule out post-fertilization effects, dispensation of this medication may be unconscionable to some.
The United States has a system of free enterprise; pharmacy owners should be able to decide which medications to stock or dispense, and which ones they will not carry. Such decisions may be based on moral, economic, safety, or other reasons. Pharmacists who do not want to dispense medication or refer to another pharmacy, for reasons of conscience or concern about poor medical care, should not be forced to do so. They are entitled to protection of their right to conscience, like any United States citizen; please ensure that they receive that right.
(Letters written by the WSCC and Dr. Sharon Quick, M.D., respectively.)