Pro-Life Pharmacist Awaits Hearing for Refusing Contraception Prescription

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Pharmacist Awaits Hearing for Refusing Contraception Prescription Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 29, 2004

Madison, WI ( — A Wisconsin pharmacist faces an early October hearing related to charges from a state regulatory agency that he failed to follow proper protocol when he refused to fill the prescription of a college student seeking contraception for birth control.

Neil Noesen, 30, said he would not fill the birth control prescription of a University of Wisconsin-Stout student because of his pro-life beliefs and concern that such pills can sometimes cause abortions.

Noesen also would not transfer the prescription to another pharmacy.

When he signed up to work at the K-Mart pharmacy in Menomonie, Noesen spoke with a manager there and told her that he would not be able to fill prescriptions for certain drugs that he believes cause abortions, because of his moral beliefs.

Managing pharmacist Ken Jorandby told him that would be fine and that other pharmacists would fill the orders at another time.

Yet, when Noesen refused to fill the student’s prescription, she filed a complaint against him with the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing.

Under state regulations, Noesen was entitled to refuse to dispense the drugs, but should have referred the student to another pharmacy. He did not and refused to transfer the prescription when another pharmacy called to fill it.

The Wisconsin DRL board offered to settle the complaint by having Noesen pay a $250 fine and $300 in administrative costs. Noesen declined.

In a statement in December 2003, Noesen said he would contest the unprofessional conduct charges and said he was receiving help from the American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life law firm.

That led to an upcoming hearing on October 11. If found guilty, Noesen faces fines or revocation of his license.

Pro-life groups hope the case will be dismissed and say pharmacists shouldn’t be forced to be involved in dispensing drugs that can cause abortions. Meanwhile, abortion advocates say Noesen should be punished and that pharmacists shouldn’t make health care decisions.

The controversy led Wisconsin Right to Life and other pro-life advocates to push for a pharmacists conscience clause bill in the state legislature. Under the bill, a pharmacist could legally refuse to dispense a drug and decline to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy.

Noesen testified in front of a state legislative committee about the bill, according to the Dunn County News.

"Just as it is unethical for us to force our patients who are adults to adhere to a drug regimen, so is it also unethical to force practitioners to participate in specific actions involving what they believe would be a cooperation with abortions, assisted suicides, and euthanasia," he said.