Another Pro-Life Pharmacist Faces Criticism for Refusing to Fill Script

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Another Pro-Life Pharmacist Faces Criticism for Refusing to Fill Script

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 4, 2004

North Richland Hills, TX ( — Another Texas pro-life pharmacist faces pressure from abortion advocates after refusing to fill a prescription for birth control drugs. In February, three other Texas pharmacists were fired for objecting to filling an order for the so-called "morning after pill" because the pharmacists believed it acts as an abortion agent.

Last week, a pharmacist at a CVS drug store refused to fill 32 year-old Julee Lacey’s prescription because he "did not believe" in birth control.

CVS’ customer service line initially informed callers that CVS supported the pharmacist’s actions and that refusing to fill prescriptions based on personal beliefs was in line with CVS policy. Soon afterwards, however, callers to CVS were told their local pharmacist had not followed company policy.

CVS policy, like that of many other drug stores, allows a pharmacist to opt out of filling an order, but the pharmacist must refer any customer to another pharmacist at the store or suggest another area drug store that can fill the order.

Todd Andrews, a spokesman for CVS, declined to say whether the unnamed pharmacist was still employed.

"Unfortunately in this instance, the pharmacist did not follow store policy," he said. "We have apologized to the customer involved and are taking steps to ensure that this situation is not repeated."

Lacey, a first-grade teacher and mother of two, eventually received the birth control pills when a CVS employee delivered the prescription to her home the following night.

Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt is calling on CVS CEO Tom Ryan to crack down on the Texas pharmacist and others who refuse to fill orders for possible abortion-causing drugs.

"On behalf of America’s women, I want your personal guarantee that this will never happen again," Feldt said. "We want to know the immediate steps you will take to guarantee that all CVS pharmacies ensure that every patient’s prescription is filled."

But pro-life groups say that pharmacists should be able to opt out of dispensing drugs that can or do cause abortions, just as other health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, can choose not to perform abortions without facing job consequences.

"Health care providers, including pharmacists, should be never be forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they are morally opposed," Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life told "Forcing a pharmacist to participate in abortion through prescribing a pill that could cause a chemical abortion is outrageous."

A spokesman for the nation’s largest pharmacists group says a conscience clause is necessary but supports CVS’ policy of requiring that objecting pharmacists refer customers to people or places that will fill the order.

Michael Stewart, spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association, told the Dallas Morning News that his group supports, a "pharmacist’s right to exercise conscientious refusal."

"A pharmacist is like any doctor, nurse or other health-care professional who has a right to have a conscience," he said. "But we also support the establishment of systems by the pharmacy so that patients can access their legally prescribed medication."

In February, Denton, Texas pharmacist Gene Herr and two co-workers were fired by Eckerd Corporation.

Herr refused to fill a woman’s prescription for the "morning after pill" given to her by a doctor after she reported being raped. He said he believes the drug can kill an unborn child shortly after fertilization has taken place.

The State Board of Pharmacy in Austin said pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription but only on medical grounds, not over moral concerns.

Gene Rudd, associate director of the Christian Medical Association says forty-five states have passed conscience clause laws for physicians, and that protection could be extended to pharmacists — as has been done in Illinois and South Dakota.

ACTION: Contact CVS with your comments at (888) 607-4287 or see