Ohio Bill Would Protect Pro-Life Pharmacists on Abortion Drugs
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 31, 2004
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — Pharmacists who do not want to dispense drugs that cause abortions could not be fired, under a bill introduced in the Ohio legislature.
House Bill 68 would provide job protection for pharmacists who have moral objections to prescribing the dangerous abortion drug RU-486 or the so-called "morning after" pill, which can also cause chemical abortions.
"It is ironic that this bill is controversial at all," said Mark Lally, Legislative Counsel for Ohio Right to Life.
"Since the groups on the other side argue that abortion should be a matter of individual choice and individual conscience, they should respect and support the conscience rights of those persons who object to distributing drugs that can cause an abortion," Lally added.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina), told the Port Clinton News Herald that state law already protects doctors who refuse to perform abortions from being fired. Faber adds that pharmacists should have the same protection.
"For many of these pharmacists it goes against their personal, moral, or ethical beliefs," Faber told the newspaper. "But we’re seeing situations where pharmacists are being required to do that. What this says is if you choose not to participate in that process, you don’t have to."
The issue first received notice in Ohio in 1999, when a pharmacist at a Cincinnati K-Mart filed a federal suit after being fired for refusing to fill an abortion-related prescription.
But the issue is not limited to Ohio. In January, three Texas pharmacists were fired from an Eckerd drug store after refusing to dispense the morning after pill to a woman who had been raped.
The abortion lobby wants the bill re-written so that pharmacists would be required to have someone on call who would be willing to distribute the abortion drugs.
"We don’t object to individuals exercising their beliefs, as long as it doesn’t affect a woman’s access," Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of the Ohio branch of the pro-abortion group NARAL told the newspaper.
"These pharmacies do have an obligation to provide this legal medical care," Copeland said.
But debate is building as to whether RU-486 and the morning after pill should be described as true medical care. The drugs have been linked to numerous health problems in women. Some women have even died after taking RU-486.
And the bill’s backers say there’s no reason a pharmacy should have to guarantee 24-hour access to abortion drugs.
"Freedom of conscience shouldn’t depend on whether other providers are available who do not share your moral concerns," said Lally.
"We wouldn’t require a small town doctor or hospital to perform an abortion just because they were the only doctor or hospital in town, and we shouldn’t require a small town pharmacist or pharmacy to distribute abortion-causing drugs for that reason either," he added.
In May, federal regulators are expected to rule whether the morning after pill can be sold without a doctor’s prescription. A number of groups, including Concerned Women for America, sharply object to such over-the-counter sales, saying they could prove dangerous to women.
Meanwhile, pro-abortion forces in Ohio are trying to claim that there is a distinction between the morning after pill and RU-486, saying the morning after pill is a contraceptive rather than an abortifacient.
However, medical evidence has shown that the morning after pill can cause chemical abortions. Rep. Faber adds that a pharmacist without knowledge of an individual customer’s situation should not have to take part in a process that makes him or her uncomfortable.