Eckerd Pharmacist in New York Condemned for Refusing Prescription

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Eckerd Pharmacist in New York Condemned for Refusing Prescription

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 21, 2004

Rochester, NY ( — Another pharmacist at an Eckerd drug store is coming under fire for his refusal to fill a prescription for a customer seeking the so-called morning after pill. Three Eckerd pharmacists in Texas were fired in February when they refused to fill a similar order.

This time, a pharmacist at an Eckerd Drug in Rochester, New York, refused to the morning after pill prescription of a woman who says she obtained the script from a doctor when her contraception failed.

WROC-TV reports that "Anne," the pseudonym of the woman in the incident, says the Eckerd pharmacist "said we have it in stock but based on my moral and religious belief I will not give it to you — those were here exact words."

"I was shocked, outraged," Anne said.

Anne told the Rochester television station that the woman pharmacist offered to call in the prescription to another store.

That action saved the pharmacist her job.

According to Eckerd police, pharmacists who refuse to fill an order for a prescription are obligated to refer the customer to another store that can. By making the referral, the pharmacist will not face disciplinary action.

Though one other Eckerd store didn’t have the drug, which can cause abortions, in stock, and another was closed, Anne finally obtained the drug in a nearby town.

That inconvenience upsets abortion advocates, who say Anne shouldn’t have been forced to go to other stores to obtain the drug.

"No one should have to run around to four pharmacies to get a prescription written from her doctor, that’s outrageous," Carol Love, director of Planned Parenthood of Rochester/Syracuse, told WROC-TV.

Pro-life groups say pharmacists should be allowed to exercise their conscience and opt out of dispensing drugs that cause significant moral or religious problems.

"If morality and ethics don’t impinge on professional life, there’s no use for it," says Karen Brauer, President of Pharmacists for Life International.

Brauer told WROC-TV, "It is not the purpose of any medical professional to be killing humans, that’s not a medical function."
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.

In March, a Wisconsin pharmacist came under fire from the state of unprofessional conduct for saying he would not fill an order for birth control pills.

Neil Noesen, 30, said he would not fill the birth control prescription because of his pro-life beliefs and concern that such pills can sometimes cause abortions. He would not transfer the prescription to another pharmacy — which prompted a complaint from the state agency regulating pharmacies.

In April, a pharmacist at a Texas CVS drug store refused to fill an order for the birth control pill because he believed it acted as an abortion agent.

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

"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," Graham added.