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Should pharmacists be forced to dispense Plan B?

Should pharmacists be forced to dispense Plan B?

The Associated Press is reporting that 

“a federal judge overreached when he sided with religious-freedom arguments to block Washington state’s rules mandating the sale of ‘morning-after’ birth control, appeals judges said Wednesday. The unanimous ruling, from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sends the politically thorny case back to U.S. District Court for further review.”

Commonly known as the morning after pill, Plan B is taken in two doses within 72 hours of unprotected sex and reduces the chances of pregnancy by 89 percent. It is an emergency contraceptive that works by preventing ovulation or fertilization, and is often confused with the abortion pill, RU 486. 

Just this past April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement stating that it has “notified the manufacturer of Plan B that it may, upon submission and approval of an appropriate application, market Plan B without a prescription to women 17 years of age and older,” following a March 23 federal court order

For some pharmacists, it is a matter of conscience, either because they do not believe in birth control at all, or because they do not believe in abortion and liken Plan B to RU 486.

The controversy over Plan B is far from over and will continue to be battled out in the courts for some time. We are a country that values individual rights, but just whose rights will prevail in this issue? The right of the patient to receive legally prescribed medication, or the right of the pharmacist not to go against his or her own moral and ethical values?

Certainly we all want the right to make individual choices and the right to live by our own conscience, but when we get into the issue of health care, things get sticky. If our pharmacists have moral objections to other treatments that our doctors prescribe, will they be allowed to refuse to dispense them? Will they withhold information? How and when will we be made aware of our pharmacists’ objections to our prescribed treatment?

The doctor-patient relationship depends on mutual trust. So does the pharmacist-patient relationship. We must have confidence that they are putting our health first, not passing judgement.

There are no easy answers to matters of conscience that involve health care. The courts have their work cut out for them on this one.

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74 comments

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5:58AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

Pharmacists shouldn't have the right to make decisions for patients and to control patients decisions.

7:13AM PDT on Aug 3, 2009

Sorry but I had to add. They should be professionals and held to a professional standard. you say The Schutzstaffel or SS had a professional standard also. Duke Deltree

7:05AM PDT on Aug 3, 2009

Blind obedience was a big thing in Nazi Germany. If you don't remember what happened to the helpless then, do some reading and ask questions you will be appalled to sickness. I depend on the human conscience of living men to moderate the behavior of the humanoids that have grabbed control of our planet! So when your saying just obey orders I turn to jelly inside knowing It's baby steps. When it's walking you'll be next when your old or mentally infirm or any a birth defect. Think twice about making living men by law start the baby walking. one more note The Nazi's did not just take over the just kept changing the Law till the chimneys were working over time. Sadly Duke Deltree

10:20AM PDT on Jul 15, 2009

When you go into a profession that supports and caters to the pharmaceutical companies and then feign a conscience, now that is laughable. My point is there is plenty of research done that is questionable that I notice these pharmacists do not object to. What about how the drugs are developed and all the tests that are run on animals and humans. Not to mention the damage some FDA approved drugs have done, such as VIOXX?

I have a very good friend who is a pharmacist, and is a professional. Their job is to fill prescriptions not make judgments. They provide a valuable service to those of us that are in need of medicine. They have spent a large number of years in school for that Pharm D. They should be professionals and held to a professional standard.

5:45PM PDT on Jul 14, 2009

So we allow pharmacists to "use their conscience" when deciding what to dispense. Where does that stop? Will we allow them to deny antabuse to alcoholics because they believe it's a choice, not a disease? How about denying powerful painkillers because they believe the person may be an addict? Diabetes meds because they feel the person has the disease due to lifestyle choices? The list is endless. If someone chooses to be a pharmacist, it means dispensing legally perscribed medications to those who have prescriptions. Not deciding what you will dispense and what you won't. If you want to make the decision about who may have what medication, go to medical school, become a doctor, and open up your own right-wing "I only prescribe moral medications" clinic. That would, of course, leave Rushbo out on a limb............

3:37PM PDT on Jul 14, 2009

"Rape not included cuz it's actually more rare than you think))"--You cant possibly be saying that rape is rare!!!!! Wow another unenlightened one that is in denial of the rape culture that exists in this country! You really should volunteer some time at a rape crisis center then again the last thing they need is someone so apathetic! My wife is an emergency room doctor and she could tell you some horror stories about your "rarity" called rape! As far as the pharmacist issue goes, if they dispense any medication that extends someone's life, they should dispense plan b as well. Extending someone's life by use of medication can be looked at as going against god's will too. Who is to say that god didnt want that patient to die? So in effect these pharmacists are going against god by virtue of their career! Crazy thought?? Maybe but everyone says god works in mysterious ways and there are religions that hold that belief!

Also nancy h are you saying that you would rather these females have an unplanned/unwanted baby that more than likely will be supported by taxpayers than a pharmacist doing the right thing and dispensing the pill as requested? Also why are you not putting some of this responsibility on the males! They could prevent this need as well if they would wrap it up like they should! Condoms break and that would have to be dealt with come on the responsibility should be shared!

7:59AM PDT on Jul 14, 2009

I live in a suburb. Many others live in actual cities. We HAVE the luxury of being in a place where you can't swing a dead cat w/o hitting a drugstore.

Other people, in BFE, DON'T. If your drugstore is the only game in town for a 30-mile radius, your refusal carries much more weight than it would in a suburb or city.

Bottom line: maybe you should still seek another job. You wouldn't be the first to leave a job because things changed in your field, and many others are also looking for jobs now...including some people more willing to take care of customers you might not agree with.

10:23PM PDT on Jul 13, 2009

johnny w...how can you even say that? Should a pharmacist of 25yrs have to leave his job because he can't in good conscience give out the plan B? You said "No one says he has to work there. No one says she doesn't have the same rights as ever else." Ha no one forced her to spread her legs either. (Rape not included cuz it's actually more rare than you think))That's hypocritical because she has the right to find a pharmacy who will give out the plan B and there will be more of them than not. That pharmacist had the job long before this Plan B went into action, a long time before ! There is always more than one pharmacist at the big drug stores so if one can't the other will and you are saying FIRE the one who can't and don't bother to look for one who will. Freaking lazy people, if it were me I'd just fine another pharmacy that will and there are many who will. Only some people will have any rights and it will be the ones who are too lazy, too irresponsible sexually active people who will. It's called a ONE WAY TOLERANCE! These ignorant females will get what they want at the expense of taxpayers and jobs lost because some pharmacist felt obligated to his conscience to tell them he couldn't but the Drug store down the street can, and ya know what? She would rather not go down the street to one who will, it is a power play to force a person to do something against their conscience and that is the bottom line, FORCE to do her will!

10:08PM PDT on Jul 13, 2009

I think EVERYONE has the right to Choose! That said it goes for a pharmacist, Dr or whoever. Is the rights only allowed for the person who had UNPROTECTED SEX only? Because there is more than one pharmacy to choose from. Seems like the rights are being pushed on people who clearly can't go against their belief whether religious or moral convictions. If there was ONE DRUG store in every state I could see the problem but geesh they are on every corner it seems. Tolerance is running only one way and the person who insists that pharmacist give them plan B and won't go anywhere else is just wanting power to put the pharmacy in jeopardy. START having RESPONSIBLE sex and there would be very little need of this crap!

12:13PM PDT on Jul 13, 2009

As usual this get off to being about abortion, You know its really not. Its about doing what the law says, and ever one God given right to do what they chose to do. No one says he has to work there. No one says she doesn't have the same rights as ever else. I personnel do not believe in abortion, but I will defend ever womans right to make her own choice. She should not have to live by mine or yours, But her and God will take care of it. .

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