STRASBOURG, November 16, 2001 ( – In a ruling last month, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed an appeal by pharmacists who were claiming recognition of the right to conscientious objection to supplying the so-called “contraceptive” pill.

Euro-Fam reports that on October 2nd 2001, the court dismissed the appeal by Mr Bruno Pichon and Mrs Marie-Line Sajous (pharmacists from Salleboeuf in Gironde, France). The appellants argued that their religious convictions prevented them from selling the pill in their pharmacy since the pill is in some cases abortifacient.

However, the court did not consider the abortifacient argument and ruled on their interpretation of religious rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. The justices noted that “Article 9 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] lists various forms that expression of a religion or a belief can take: namely worship, teaching, practice and performance of its rituals”. The term “practice” they said “does not cover each and every kind of public act or behaviour, motivated or inspired by a religion or a belief.”“The appellants may not assert and impose their religious convictions on other people in order to justify refusing to sell this product, it being possible for expression of the said convictions to be exercised in many ways outside the professional sphere”, the court concluded.

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