MADISON, September 29, 2004 ( – In May 2002, pharmacist Neil Noesen refused to fill a prescription for oral contraceptives on the grounds that to do so was in violation of his religious principles. reported in May 2004 that the woman had filed a complaint of unprofessional conduct against Noesen with the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing. Noesen refused to accept a settlement fine of US $250 and is contesting the charge.

Noesen faces possible fines or revocation of his license. His hearing on charges of unprofessional conduct was scheduled for September 23rd but was cancelled. The hearing has been rescheduled for Oct. 11. Peggy Hamill, state director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, said that while the cancellation of the hearing was ‘appreciated’, the question of conscience protection for pharmacists remains open. “No health professional should be punished for his deeply held religious convictions. Not only would his be an unconstitutional infringement on Neil Noesen’s free exercise of religion, it would serve only to aggravate the already acute shortage of pharmacists in this state.”  Legislation failed in 2003, that was proposed to protect pharmacists from discrimination “on the basis of his or her refusal, based on creed, to dispense a prescribed drug or device that the pharmacist has reason to believe would be used for causing an abortion or causing the death of a person.”  A rally was held to oppose conscience protection at the state legislature and was attended by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin political director, Chris Taylor. Taylor said, “If there aren’t more pro-birth control legislators elected in November, the health care needs of Wisconsin women and families will be jeopardized.”  Hamill said however, that conscience legislation would not restrict patients’ access to drugs. She said, “It simply recognizes that employers cannot force pharmacists to directly participate in what they know to be the killing of another person.”  Previous coverage:


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