New Hampshire House Opposes Pro-Life Pharmacists Conscience Clause

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Hampshire House Opposes Pro-Life Pharmacists Conscience Clause Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 10, 2006

Concord, NH ( — The New Hampshire state House has voted against a pro-life measure that would protect pharmacists who have a moral or religious objection to dispensing the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.

Pro-life lawmakers wanted the conscience clause legislation after the state last year approved over the counter sales of the Plan B drugs.

According to the Portsmouth Herald newspaper, Goffstown Republican Rep. Karen McRae told lawmakers she has heard concerns from some pharmacists who have said they are facing corporate pressure to dispense the drug.

"I think it’s terrible that in a ‘Live Free or Die’ state that we don’t have a choice," she said.

"Many pharmacists are having a terrible conflict of conscience," said Manchester Republican Rep. Kathleen Souza added.

Abortion advocates, including the state chapter of NARAL, opposed the measure.

Pharmacists there must undergo a mandatory training course before being allowed to dispense the drugs, but lawmakers said there is pressure to attend the training since fewer than 20% of the state’s pharmacists chose to attend the first two seminars held at the end of last year.

A December poll conducted by HCD Research of Flemington, New Jersey, which surveyed 859 pharmacists, found 69 percent of pharmacists believe they should have the ability to decline filling prescriptions for the morning after pill.

The firm conducted the poll after news of four Illinois pharmacists fired from Walgreens stores near St. Louis after they said they would not fill orders for the Plan B drug because of their views on it.

HCD Research found that just 29 percent of those pharmacists polled believed Walgreens was justified in putting the pharmacists on unpaid leave. They have since filed a complaint with the EEOC about the actions and may file a lawsuit if they doesn’t help them return to work.

Some New Hampshire pharmacists are worried about being held liable for problems associated with the Plan B drugs.

Pharmacist Deborah Kirsch doesn’t mind filling a prescription for the Plan B pills from a physician, but she won’t sell the drugs to women who come to her store, Modern Pharmacy in Concord.

"What if some poor girl got pregnant and had a malformed baby," Kirsch told the Concord monitor newspaper. "I don’t want to be in the middle of that."

"I don’t trust the law to protect me from liability," Kirsch said. "Why should we be able to do it for this one drug, but not for any other drugs?"

Meanwhile, both the state House and Senate are considering measures that would allow parents to either be notified or be required to give their consent for a minor teenager to purchase the drugs at a local pharmacy.

New Hampshire is one of seven states that are allowing sales of the morning after pill over the counter without a doctor’s visit.

Other states that allow purchase of the morning after pill without a prescription include Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington.