by Steven Ertelt
April 13, 2005
Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — A Wisconsin agency that monitors pharmacists approved sanctions on Wednesday for a pharmacist who refused to fill a customer’s prescription because he believed the drug causes abortions and violates his moral beliefs.
In July 2002, pharmacist Neil Noesen refused to fill the birth control prescription of a University of Wisconsin-Stout student. He also would not transfer Amanda Phiede’s prescription to another pharmacy.
As a result, the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board has ruled that Noesen should be required to take ethics classes to continue employment as a pharmacist.
The board also indicated Noesen would have to pay the $20,000 it cost for the agency and an administrative judge to rule on the matter.
Noesen will be able to keep his pharmaceutical license, but only if he informs all future employers in writing that he will not dispense birth control pills. He must also ensure the pharmacy that he will help customers fill their prescriptions elsewhere.
However, when he was hired as a temporary substitute pharmacist at a K-Mart pharmacy, Noesen told the placement agency that found him the job that he would not fill orders for birth control drugs and wrote a letter to the agency outlining his concerns.
Though he did not give the document to the pharmacy, he worked out a verbal agreement with his supervisor to fill such prescriptions. When Phiede came to the pharmacy, however, Noesen was the only technician on duty at the time.
Michael Bettiga, the board chairman, told the Associated Press that Noesen had a right to refuse to fill the script, but indicated he should have helped Phiede obtain the drug elsewhere.
Noesen, and pro-life groups that back him, say that would only further violate his moral beliefs and rights to opt out of being involved in a potential abortion.
Noesen can appeal the ruling to a circuit court.
Nicole Safar, of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, told AP her group applauded the decision.
Wisconsin Right to Life disagreed saying the decision "proves what happens when an individual’s moral beliefs and livelihood are on a collision course."
Pharmacists for Life International, a pro-life trade group, also supported Noesen in the matter.
Karen Brauer, president of the group, pointed out that the state of Wisconsin does not have a law mandating that pharmacists transfer a prescription to another pharmacy if the pharmacist cannot fill it.
"Therefore, Neil Noesen has broken no pharmacy regulation," Brauer said.
AP reports that Noesen has since moved to Minnesota, where he was fired from a Snyders Drug for refusing to fill a birth control prescription.