New Jersey Lawmaker Wants Pharmacist Conscience Clause on Plan B Drug

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 5, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Lawmaker Wants Pharmacist Conscience Clause on Plan B Drug Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 5
, 2006

Trenton, NJ ( — A New Jersey state lawmaker wants the state legislature to consider whether or not pharmacists should have the right to opt out of dispensing drugs like the morning after pill that violate their moral or religious beliefs. However, he first has to get the Office of Legislative Services to draft the correct bill.

The office, which crafts legislation for lawmakers when they request a bill, made the measure much more expansive than Assemblyman Sean Kean, a Republican, wanted.

The current bill would allow a wide range of health professionals from acupuncturists to veterinary medical examiners to reject performing a large swath of services.

Because of it’s large scope, the new measure, A-2016, may not have much of a chance in the legislature.

"I would not be interested in pursuing it being so expansive," Kean told the Courier Post newspaper.

Kean said he just wants a bill that concentrates on pharmacists and he said he requested it after a pharmacist in his district said he was concerned that pharmacists would be required to sell the morning after pill following a FDA decision to allow over the counter sales to anyone 18 and older.

Kean told the newspaper that dispensing the drugs through a prescription is less of an issue after the decision but pharmacists still need protection.

"Only minors would need a prescription, so it’s still an issue but not as big of an issue because a lot of the pills won’t require a prescription," Kean told the newspaper.

Last year, abortion advocates backed a measure that would force pharmacists there to dispense all drugs available at the pharmacy — including drugs that act as abortion agents.

SB 2178 was introduced by Sens. Fred Madden and Joseph Vitale and AB 3772 introduced by Reps. Linda Stender and Robert Smith. The legislation did not advance.

A December 2005 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.

Related web sites:
Pharmacists for Life International –
New Jersey Right to Life –