UK guidelines may strip pharmacists of conscience rights on morning after pill

Required to refer a customer to a named pharmacist who is willing to distribute the abortifacient drugs.
Mon Aug 15, 2011 - 4:35 pm EST

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, August 15, 2011 ( – New guidelines issued this month by a medical professional regulator may strip United Kingdom pharmacists of their right to refuse to facilitate the distribution of the abortifacient morning-after pill. Under the new rules, which are not yet mandatory, pharmacists who do not wish to dispense the drugs themselves will be required to refer customers to a named pharmacist who is willing to distribute the abortifacient drugs, and pharmacists must check ahead to ensure the product is in stock.

“This is yet another direct attack on the religious rights of conscience of pharmacists and all health professionals by an increasingly inflexible and rigid secularist state such as the UK,” said Pharmacists for Life International Executive Director Bogomir Kuhar in an interview with LifeSiteNews (LSN).

The new “Guidance on the Provision of Pharmacy Services Affected by Religious and Moral Beliefs” by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) explains how a pharmacist’s right to conscientious objection should be interpreted. It also reinterprets existing pharmaceutical conscience protections, which have existed since 1967, according the Boston Pilot Newspaper.

In addition to the provisions relating to the morning-after pill, the guidelines will require pharmacists to make drugs available for in-vitro fertilization (IVF), to which some pharmacists also object. The guidelines also make pharmacists responsible for informing a potential employer of any moral objections they have to the morning-after pill when applying for a job.

However, the Telegraph Newspaper reported that the GPhC has said that the rules are “not mandatory” and are open to review after one year.

Kuhar of Pharmacists for Life opined that the government wishes “to have pharmacists act as virtual slaves in dispensing such hazardous chemicals without regard to the health and lives of both the moms and their babies.” He explained that the guidelines “treat a normal healthy condition such as pregnancy as if it were a deadly illness.”

“Eventually, this can drive all caring, thoughtful and conscience-driven pharmacists and other health professionals from the profession, leaving only those who would have no issue with dispensing chemicals which can cause severe harm or death to patients, be it by aborting preborn babies or euthanizing invalids, old people and all ‘life not worth living,’” Kuhar said.

Commenting on the news, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Executive Director John Smeaton said, “The GPhC could soon be faced with a legal challenge, as the contractual demands of employers in no way trumps the legal right to conscientious objection, which is protected in international human rights instruments.”

“Unless these guidelines are reversed, it will make it increasingly impossible for pro-lifers to work in pharmacies,” Smeaton said. “In the UK, moral conflicts are often reduced to technical questions, and thus moral principles are subsumed into compromises. People who hold to the primacy of the moral over other considerations end up being persecuted in this amoral environment.”

  conscience, morning-after pill, uk

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