by Steven Ertelt
June 5, 2006
Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — A federal district court judge in Wisconsin has ruled against a pro-life pharmacist who was fired from a Wal-Mart pharmacy for refusing to dispense the birth control drug. Neil Noesen said he was fired last summer and claimed religious discrimination for not wanting to fill prescriptions for drugs he says can cause an abortion.
U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed Noesen’s lawsuit, filed against Wal-Mart and Medical Staffing Network, a personnel agency that placed Noesen in the store’s pharmacy.
Judge Shabaz said Wal-Mart and MSM accommodated Neosen’s request to not distribute certain drugs, but he said Noesen went further by antagonizing customers seeking the drugs. He said Noesen put callers seeking the drugs on hold indefinitely and refused to help them find other pharmacists or pharmacies if they appeared in person at the pharmacy.
Stephanie Adler, an Orlando lawyer who represented MSM, told AP that the ruling was a good balance between supporting a pharmacist’s moral and religious convictions and helping customers.
"It demonstrates there has to be a balance between accommodating someone’s religious beliefs while at the same time providing a service and allowing people access to medical care,” Adler said.
"Noesen believes that his personal beliefs are more important than a patient’s right to have access to legally prescribed medication," she told the Associated Press.
Adler said MSM had an agreement with Noesen that he would not have to fill birth control prescriptions or answer inquiries about them. However, she said Wal-Mart found Noesen was problematic when he wouldn’t help customers find someone else to talk to about the prescriptions.
This is the second time Noesen has fought against being required to distribute certain drugs.
He was fired from a K-Mart store in 2002 for not wanting to fill a prescription for the birth control pill. The state Pharmacy Examining Board sanctioned Noesen last year in the case.
According to AP, Noesen’s pharmacy license expired on Wednesday. The state board required him to state ethics classes and pay back almost $21,000 in costs it incurred to investigate his situation. Doing those things were a condition of him receiving his license back, but the board told AP it has no record of Noesen doing either.
Pharmacists for Life International, a pro-life trade group, backed Noesen’s actions in the K-Mart case.
"There has been no proof of harm, or possible harm coming to the patient from being deprived of her medication until the next day," Karen Brauer, president of the group, said in a legal brief it filed on his behalf.
"Birth control pills used for that stated purpose are not a medical necessity, since there are other options for preventing birth," the brief states.
Brauer 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.