Idaho Pharmacist “Did Not Break Laws” Refusing to Fill Methergine Prescription
The Idaho Board of Pharmacy has found the pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for a bleeding patient she believed may have had an abortion to not have broken any laws.
The Idaho Board of Pharmacy has concluded a Nampa Walgreen’s pharmacist did not break any state laws when she allegedly refused to fill a prescription last year.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest filed a complaint after a nurse called last year and asked for methergine, a medication used to prevent bleeding after childbirth or an abortion.
Planned Parenthood said the pharmacist’s actions were dangerous but the board said since the prescription was obtained from another pharmacy, no danger was presented.
Idaho’s conscience clause, which allows a pharmacist to opt out of filling prescriptions for drugs he or she may have moral issues with, is only meant to apply to drugs such as the morning after pill, that a pharmacist may believe directly cause abortions.
Instead, the pharmacist both tried to violate privacy laws and then withheld a drug meant to stop bleeding that may be associated with abortion but also birth, and refused to pass the prescription to someone else in the pharmacy to be filled. Yet the Board is claiming that since someone else filled it eventually despite the pharmacist’s roadblocks, the pharmacist did nothing illegal.
Vikie Holbrook, editor of the Idaho Press and pro-lifer, wrote a brilliant column explaining why this pharmacist should be held responsible for her dangerous actions, and why the state’s conscience clause needs to have these potential loopholes addressed:
Twenty-nine years ago this month, I miscarried. I developed an infection and had to have a D&C procedure. It’s common after a miscarriage, but I remember the nurses kept saying to me: “Oh, you are here for an abortion.”
They meant no harm, but I was a mental mess. After wanting a baby for so long, I lost it too early.
Technically, abortion means ending a pregnancy. A miscarriage does that.
I did not have an abortion. I lost my baby. And I was broken-hearted. And I told the nurses that. A week later, I marched in the annual Pro-Life March in Boise because it was so important to me, personally. I felt that I had to make a statement.
The drug is prescribed to postpartum bleeding patients. That could have been me. Forget the fact that the phone call came from a Planned Parenthood practitioner. It could have been me.
It could have been you.
I might have needed that drug to stop the postpartum bleeding. You might need the drug some day for the same reason.
I share this private part of my past, because if I had to pick up this prescription the same pharmacist could refuse me service. Imagine the mental trauma that I would have endured on top of already a very emotional state.
I can certainly understand why a pharmacist might object to handing out the morning-after pill. The law protects people who live by a moral code. The drug is not administered as an “abortion” pill.
It shouldn’t matter to the pharmacist why the drug is being prescribed.
I’m not stupid. I realize that the patient had probably just undergone an abortion. But that’s not what this issue is about. It’s also not about the pharmacist’s right to decline his/her right to provide services that assist in ending a life.
The life already ended. The woman needed something to stop the bleeding. The pharmacist overstepped the line.
Gov. Otter was right in March 2011 when he refused to sign the bill, but he was wrong to let it become law. The law needs to be more specific, and it should not have such a far-reaching effect on drugs that are administered for other reasons.
It was not an abortion drug.
Next time it could be you.
The law needs to be fine-tuned.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, is considering reporting the pharmacist to federal agencies for attempting to violate HIPAA privacy laws.
Related Stories: When Conscience Clauses Can Kill