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Pharmacist's Conscience bill needed

By Scott Tibbs, June 11, 2001

In 1996, Indiana resident Karen Brauer was fired from an Ohio Kmart for refusing to dispense a progestin-only birth control pill. Brauer said in a speech March 26 to Indiana University Students for Life in Bloomington that Ohio law recognizes the right of pharmacists to refuse to dispense any drug for any reason, and Kmart violated that law by terminating her employment. The store she worked at had stopped distributing a diet drug as it was being abused, and was being sold on the black market.

The American Center for Law and Justice has taken up Brauer's case, citing federal and state law forbidding discrimination against employees for religious beliefs.

Rep. Peggy Welch (D-Bloomington) had introduced a Pharmacist's Conscience bill in Indiana in both the 1999 and 2001 legislative sessions. The first time it was introduced, Welch killed it herself by placing it in a study committee, where no further action was taken. In 2001, the bill was killed directly by House Floor Leader Mark Kruzan (D-Bloomington) who refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote. House Speaker John Gregg (D-Sandborn), who outranks Kruzan, did not overrule him and bring the bill up for a vote, so one can assume that Gregg also did not want the bill to pass.

When discussing a potential Pharmacist's Conscience law, it is important to note that the health care industry is different from other sectors of the economy. The people employed in it have the primary responsibility to heal people of the ailments they are afflicted with and to reduce pain and suffering, and a health care professional also takes an oath to "do no harm" to patients. Since the main aim of the health care industry is to heal people, profit considerations present in other sectors of the economy are not necessarily the driving force behind what health care professionals do.

It is for this reason that pro-abortion arguments that this would lead to a "slippery slope" where people can refuse to do almost any job are fallacious. If a Pharmacist's Conscience law were passed in Indiana or elsewhere, this will not suddenly lead to vegans being legally allowed to refuse to serve steaks at your local Ponderosa. A conscience law would specifically allow health care professionals to follow the "do no harm" oath. After all, the progestin-only "birth control" actually acts as an abortafacient much of the time. What progestin-only "birth control" does is prevent implantation of the newly fertilized embryo, causing the new life to starve. A new human life biologically begins at conception with a new DNA code. Pro-life pharmacists refuse to harm a being that needs only nutrition and shelter to move through life's various stages of development.

Pro-abortion forces in this debate have advanced some obvious fallacies over Pharmacist's Conscience. One such fallacy is the notion that pharmacists must comply with a doctor's order to fill a prescription, and that beyond noting their objection they may not refuse to dispense any prescription the physician feels is warranted. This silly notion that pharmacists are cashiers is patently false. Pharmacists take the same "do no harm" oath that doctors do and are bound by that oath. Brauer explained that pharmacists can be sued for malpractice and most carry malpractice insurance. To suggest that a pharmacist blindly must follow doctors' orders against his or her better professional judgement is an extremist position taken by pro-abortionists in response to a legitimate concern.

Only the most extreme "feminazis" would suggest that physicians be forced to participate in a surgical abortion. Indeed, laws across America protect physicians from being forced to participate in a surgical abortion and these laws exist without much controversy. Most pro-choice Americans see abortion as an issue of conscience that government should not interfere in. A true pro-choice position would allow people to both choose to procure an abortion, and to refuse to have or participate in an abortion if they feel it procedure is objectionable for whatever reason. It is only logical that we extend the freedom of conscience to earlier abortions caused by chemicals instead of a surgeon's instruments. Pharmacist's Conscience would be a step in this direction.