Arizona Governor Vetoes Pharmacist Abortion Conscience Clause Bill
by Steven Ertelt
April 13, 2005
Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed a bill Wednesday that would allow a conscience clause for pharmacists to opt out of being involved with abortion drugs. Without enough votes to override the veto in the state legislature, the measure fails.
"Pharmacies and other health care service providers have no right to interfere in the lawful personal medical decisions made by patients and their doctors," Napolitano said about the bill.
"It is unwise to pass laws opposed by the leading associations of professionals whom the bill purports to protect," the governor added.
However, pro-life groups and state lawmakers disagreed.
Saying his group is "extremely disappointed" by her decision, Arizona Right to Life director Shane Wikfors told LifeNews.com that Napolitano is "beholden" to Planned Parenthood and abortion businesses.
Wikfors said the legislation was a "reasonable and legitimate approach to upholding the right to conscience and would have simply expanded current law already on the books."
The measure would provide protection for pharmacists who don’t want to dispense abortion drugs and worry about losing their jobs. It covers the sometimes-abortifacient morning after pill and would cover the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug as well.
In 1973 the Arizona Legislature authorized hospitals, physicians and staff persons associated with health care institutions to refuse to participate in an abortion if they object to participating based on moral or religious grounds.
The bill "expands on this concept" Wikfors said.
The state Senate voted 17-11 in favor of the bill and the state House approved it 35-24 in February. However, those margins are short of the two-thirds necessary to override a gubernatorial veto.
Rep. Doug Quelland, the sponsor of H2541, says health care workers should be protected from being forced to be involved in abortions.
“Do you want a state where health care workers are forced to violate their personal conscience and ethics," Quelland asked during the debate on the bill.
The governor’s veto will likely earn her strong opposition from pro-life groups if she seeks re-election in 2006.
"Governor Napolitano is clearly out of step with the values of a majority of Arizonans," Wikfors explained. She will likely pay the political price of her veto of this important legislation next fall."