Why a Conscience Clause is a must... NOW!
Recent events in the medical world point to the overwhelming need
for a Pharmacist's Conscience Clause (CC) as a must immediately. One
pharmacist in California was reprimanded, but not fired, for refusing
to dispense the abortifacient so-called "morning after pill"
(MAP). Several others have been fired or essentially forced to resign
by firms such as K-Mart and Wal-Mart. Increasing pressures from
chains, hospitals and anti-life minded executives bears negatively on
those pharmacists who have a semblance of scruples to protect the
lives of their preborn clients and the health of the latter's moms.
In this article, PFLI will attempt to pose some frequently asked
questions (FAQs for those who are Internet conversant) on the issue.
Q. Why do pharmacists need a conscience clause (CC)?
A. Pharmacists are increasingly under demands and pressures in our
contracepting/aborting society to "go along" in dispensing
chemicals and devices which they know will be used to destroying a
nascent human life at its earliest stages. While a random assortment
of employment laws and regulations exist in various localities and
states, they do not specifically address the unique situation of
pharmacists to refuse to cooperate knowingly with the evils of
contraception, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, among
others, in violation of their sincerely held religious, moral or
Q. How will a CC be put into effect?
A. PFLI and other concerned parties are initiating CC action at the
level of policy making in trade associations and at the state
Q. What is the status of the CC?
A. The CC has been passed in the US in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and
California and in the Canadian province of Alberta by pharmacy
associations. Several local associations have passed resolutions
supporting the CC. It is being considered in about a dozen other
states. On the legislative level, the CC has been introduced in WI
with almost 30 co-sponsors. Several other states are exploring
introducing the CC in similar form. Clearly, the landscape with
respect to interest in the CC has changed dramatically since PFLI
started the ball rolling for a CC 10 years ago.
Q. What prompted PFLI to pro-actively initiate the CC?
A. Two pharmacists working for Safeway in Longview, WA were dismissed
from their jobs for refusing to dispense OCs knowing they act as
abortifacients are various percentage rates. PFLI went to their
defense publicly although the two were not members. In 1991, another
pharmacist was forced to resign from the University of Florida for
refusing to dispense the MAP to college girls at the university
dispensary. After the 1987 incident, PFLI took the leadership
initiative to have a universal CC passed to preserve the rights of
conscience for pharmacists who refuse to violate their conscience.
Doctors and nurses have had specific national and state protections
for their rights of conscience. A universal CC would only give parity
Q. Are pharmacy associations supportive of the CC?
A. In some states, such as those which passed the CC, state leaders
have had the vision to see this is a pressing work issue which must
be addressed to protect pharmacists and, ultimately, their clients.
In some states, such as Ohio, the state leadership has actively
obstructed democratic efforts to have pharmacists debate and vote on
a CC. Groups such as the National Association of Employee Pharmacists
have indicated a favorable stance towards the CC. As more pharmacists
move to become employees rather than employers, the need for a CC is
more apparent. In any event, the CC is a pharmacist professional
judgment issue and not simply a "pro-life" issue. Pharmacy
as a profession needs to decide are pharmacists critically thinking
individuals who integrate their values into their work life or are
they "mind-numbed" robots that are glorified order-takers
Q. Can't the CC be abused by pharmacists as an "out" for
refusing work or medically bona fide prescriptions?
A. While any law or regulation can be abused by a small minority,
experience thus far shows that pharmacists who invoke the CC do so
for sincerely held convictions and after much thought and
negotiations with their superiors. Some have actually worked out
inventive mechanisms for not violating their beliefs while attending
to clients' genuine medical needs. In fact, the bill now pending in
WI has a clause whereby the pharmacist must inform his employer in
advance in writing of any objections and that employers are protected
from liability in honoring such objections.
Q. Isn't "liberty or freedom of conscience" subject to
abuse or too broad a phrase?
A. Liberty or freedom of conscience must be defined for what it is
and what it is not given the vague implications it has been given by
moral relativists. True freedom of conscience is the person's
inherent right to know, love and serve God without hindrance, the
right to practice his religion, and to see that the laws of his
country (including association codes of ethics) defend and uphold it.
Conversely, the moral liberal erroneously thinks that freedom of
conscience is the complete independence of every man with regard to
religion, the freedom to believe what he likes or nothing at all; the
right to be in intellectual and moral error, and that it is his right
to require that the laws of his country take into account his
skepticism and his unbelief.
Q. If a pharmacist objects to dispensing, say, an OC/MAP he knows
is abortifacient, is he obliged to refer that client to someone else?
A. A pharmacist by virtue of properly understood conscience cannot be
licitly compelled to cooperate in such a fashion with what he knows
will result in a chemical abortion and, hence, a dead baby. Such
activity is called material cooperation. Further, it is not an
inconvenience to refuse to refer such a client since the pharmacist
is doing the woman and her preborn child a favor in terms of physical
and spiritual health.
Material cooperation with such an evil can never be licit even if it
may be lawful, as it is in today's society. In fact, pharmacists
aware of the evil nature of such a scenario would have a duty as a
pharmacist and a person not to cooperate in such an evil even under
pain of serious adverse ramifications. Some authors, hiding their
publicly stated support for any and all baby killing, have
erroneously stated shameful opinions which equivocate on the rights
of conscience and thus claim a pharmacist may have a right of
conscience, but if all else fails, he must cooperate with the evil in
our example. Such thinking shows the irrational absurdity and
confusion in the minds of those who adhere to such ideas.
Q. Isn't the pharmacist who declines to dispense such chemicals
"imposing" his morality on his client?
A. The pharmacist who declines to dispense drugs or counseling which
he knows to violate his conscience, properly understood, is resisting
an objective evil and, in fact, is doing his client a favor. On the
contrary, those who wish to mandate dispensing of drugs under any and
all conditions or whims are really the ones imposing a false,
relativistic, secular and humanistic morality on the pharmacist who
understands that he cannot cooperate in something objectively wrong
or evil. Pharmacists are under no obligation, even if written in the
positive law, to violate the Divine Law. This would include, but not
be limited to any mandate to dispense or counsel for contraception,
abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is a grave error, which
has arisen especially over the past 500 years, that a person may do
as he pleases without negative consequences in both the temporal and
Q. Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for:
- Mifepristone (RU 486) type prescriptions
- Plan B type prescriptions
- Any birth control pill used as a so-called “contracpetive” (for either married or unmarried women)
- Any birth control pill for any reason
- Barrier method birth control (e.g. diaphragm)
A. In the past, pharmacists have been able to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs which are not profitable to stock, for drugs which might harm the
patient, for drugs being sought for abuse, and for drugs which operate to harm or kill humans.
Only recently have some drugs been declared "sacred" by some government entities so that businesses and individuals are being forced to
The current issue of controversy is that a large number of pharmacists wish not to dispense drugs which may operate by ending human life.
Q. If a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription based on moral reasons,
should the pharmacist have to return the prescription to the patient?
A. All clinical decisions of a health care professional are
based upon moral grounds. If you study morality, you will
come to understand that it involves all actions of a person, and the
determination of whether the actions are right or wrong.
Morality extends beyond sex restrictions, despite what the drive-by
media, Planned Parenthood and their fellow travelers teach.
In the past it has been considered wrong to dispense a drug with
abuse potential to a person who is abusing. It has also
been considered wrong to give back prescriptions presented by
an abuser to obtain the drugs for abuse purposes.
or harming humans is an abuse of drugs, it is has become
customary, and sometimes legally required to allow a person seeking
such drugs to retain their prescription.
Q. Should pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions have to transfer
the prescription to another pharmacist or pharmacy? If no, why not?
A. They should not have to transfer a prescription for a drug which
operates by killing humans, since killing humans is an abuse of
drugs. However it is a legal requirement to transfer
prescriptions in some areas, but certainly not all areas.
It was Not a part of Wisconsin pharmacy regulations, for
example, but a Wisconsin judge has seen fit to write, and
unilaterally pass law on this matter.
Q. How do you balance the rights and needs of the patient with those of the pharmacist?
A. It is not the right of one human to enslave another human for the
purpose of killing a third human. It is also not
the right of one human to demand that another human provide any
product or service. Such demands constitute enslavement.
Killing humans, or harming humans is not a legitimate part of
any health care practice.
Q. Is there a limit to what pharmacists can refuse to fill based on moral grounds?
A. Refer above to the statements concerning morality, and that it
extends beyond sex restrictions, and related issues.
the duty of any health care professional to refuse to harm or kill
Q. How do you view the role of the pharmacist in the overall health care system in the United States?
Pharmacists are the last checkpoint for patient safety with
respect to the use of drugs. The function of pharmacists has
been so rapid and seamless as to be hidden from the average person
who fills a prescription. Patients who are under the
care of more than one doctor, who have been treated for HIV, or
cancer, or on complex drug regimens are more likely to understand the
life saving services pharmacists provide along with drug dispensing.
There is currently a pharmacist shortage which will be exacerbated by
the trend to require pharmacists to dispense drugs which harm or kill
humans, in violation of their sincerely held Conscience and
principles, and in violation of the Hippocratic Oath. The
elderly and the chronically ill people will pay a large
price for the effort to remove pharmacists' clinical
authority which traditionally governed dispensing of
medications. This is a health care tragedy.
Q. Where can I get more information on the CC?
A. PFLI remains the premier promoter and supplier of information
regarding the CC, seeking its enactment by associations and
legislatures. PFLI has also given consulting and legal support to
pharmacists facing situations in their workplace. One can call,
write, phone, fax or e-mail
PFLI for information on the CC or by visiting the PFLI web site.
Parties interested in the CC and promoting its acceptance in their
state should contact PFLI immediately. Assistance, either as
donations to our legal/education fund or as a local contact--is
needed to introduce the CC at the legislative and association levels.
Pertinent contact info: PFLI, PO Box 1281, Powell, OH 43065-1281,
toll free 1-800-227-8359 (US and Canada), (740) 881-5520; fax (570)
521-0892; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Internet: Pharmacists For Life International