by Steven Ertelt
September 27, 2004
Laconia, NH (LifeNews.com) — Should pharmacists be able to opt out of dispensing drugs they find morally objectionable? The actions of a New Hampshire pharmacist who declined to fill an prescription for the sometimes abortifacient morning after pill is adding to the national debate.
Suzanne Richards says she went to a drive-through Brooks pharmacy in Laconia, New Hampshire on a recent Saturday night when an assistant told her pharmacist Todd Sklencar would not refill her morning-after pill prescription.
Sklencar told Richards that he was morally opposed to dispensing a drug that could end the life of an unborn child.
"He said something like, ‘I believe this will end the fertilization of the egg and this conception was your choice," Richards told Foster’s Sunday Citizen newspaper.
Richards, a single mother, says she stopped her car in the parking lot and cried once Sklencar’s words sunk in.
Richards returned to the Brooks pharmacy later in the evening and Sklencar again refused to fill the prescription. He did not give Richards a referral to another pharmacy where she could get the prescription filled.
"He said I was irresponsible. Well, I think it’s irresponsible to have kids you can’t take care of and raise," Richards, 21 years-old, told WMUR-TV.
Another Brooks pharmacist contacted Richards on Tuesday, but the drug wouldn’t be effective at that point. The morning-after pills only work to destroy the unborn child within 72 hours after intercourse.
New Hampshire state law allows pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription for any reason, but Paul Boisseau, director of the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy told WMUR that pharmacists who will not dispense a certain drug should refer customers to another pharmacy.
However, Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, said making pharmacists refer a customer somewhere else doesn’t make sense.
"If we’re not going to kill a human being, we’re not going to help the customer go do it somewhere else," she said.
In July, Steve Mosher, owner of the Medicine Shoppe in Fabens, Texas refused to fill a prescription for the birth control drug
In February, Denton, Texas pharmacist Gene Herr and two co-workers were fired by Eckerd Corporation, after they refused to fill a woman’s prescription for the "morning after pill."
"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 LifeNews.com. "Forcing a pharmacist to participate in abortion through prescribing a pill that could cause a chemical abortion is outrageous."
Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri are among the states that are attempting to pass legislation protecting the right of pharmacists and other medical professionals to refuse to provide treatments they object to on moral grounds.
Gene Rudd, associate director of the Christian Medical Association says forty-five states have passed conscience clause laws for physicians, and that protection should be extended to pharmacists — as has been done in Illinois and South Dakota.