by Steven Ertelt
February 3, 2005
Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — An Arizona state House committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would provide protection for thousands of pharmacists in the state who may not want to dispense drugs that may cause abortions.
The legislation targets the sometimes-abortifacient morning after pill and would cover the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug as well.
Members of the committee passed the bill on a 6-3 margin. It now heads to another committee before being considered by the full state House.
Shane Wikfors, director of Arizona Right to Life, applauded the vote and the bill sponsor.
"Health Committee Chairman and sponsor of the bill, Representative Doug Quelland, did an excellent job in ensuring fair and balanced treatment of the bill — unlike the media which has unleashed a barrage of criticism toward the bill for over a week," Wikfors said.
Kathy Boyle, executive director of the Arizona Pharmacy Alliance, said existing state regulations already allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their moral or religious beliefs.
She said if lawmakers want to put that into law, they should also require pharmacists to refer women to another pharmacy to fill the prescription.
However, Ron Johnson of the Arizona Catholic Conference said that would be the same as forcing the pharmacist to dispense the drugs.
During the hearing, Rep. Jennifer Burns, a Tucson Republican, added an amendment to the bill removing language dealing with contraception and replacing it with a phrase saying any "right of conscience" applies to "abortifacient contraception."
According to the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper, Burns added the amendment to support the Catholic Conference, which wanted to make sure pharmacists who don;t want to dispense such drug can opt out.
However, Rep. Quelland said he was unsure if her language would accomplish that because some say that birth control drugs do not work as an abortion agent.
Related web sites:
Arizona Right to Life – https://www.azrtl.org