by Steven Ertelt
April 12, 2005
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — As the debate intensifies across the nation about the role of pharmacists and whether they should be able to opt out of dispensing drugs that cause abortions, a Tennessee bill would do just that. Pro-life groups hail the measure as a way for pharmacists to exercise their moral objections.
The measure would allow any of the 5,200 licensed pharmacists in Tennessee to decide against dispensing any drug objectionable based on ”ethical or religious principles.”
Sen. Raymond Finney, a Republican, introduced the measure in the state Senate and he tells the Nashville newspaper that his bill extends ”freedom of choice” to pharmacists to protect "’their moral, religious, ethical ideas.”
”This codifies what is in practice now,” Finney said. ”In the ethics of the American Pharmacists Association they can refuse to fulfill any prescription that violates their beliefs. In practice — and I’ve run this by several pharmacists — it’s done now. People on the street don’t know about it.”
Baeteena Black, executive director of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, says her group opposes the legislation.
”I don’t see this (legislation) improving patients’ health or their quality of life," she told the Tennessean newspaper. "We feel it’s really something unneeded in Tennessee.”
Unlike in other states, there have been no cases yet of a pharmacist refusing to dispense a drug. In Texas, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Illinois and other states, abortion advocates have complained loudly when pro-life pharmacists opted against dispensing drugs like the morning after pill or birth control pills.
Jeff Teague, president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, told the Associated Press earlier this month that his group opposes the bill.
State Rep. Glen Casada, also a Republican, is sponsoring the bill in the state House. The Senate version is expected to get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate General Welfare Committee when the Senate reconvenes on April 27.
Casada’s bill is headed to the Democrat House Public Health Subcommittee.
The bill is named the Pharmacists Freedom of Conscience Act.
Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Dakota all have state laws specifically protecting pro-life pharmacists and eight other states are considering similar measures.
Related web sites:
Tennessee Right to Life – https://www.tnrtl.org