by Steven Ertelt
October 20, 2006
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — A bill a state legislative panel approved Thursday would force pharmacists in the state to dispense the morning after pill drug despite possible moral or religious views against it. The bill comes ahead of the implementation of a new FDA policy allowing the Plan B pills to be sold over the counter.
The Assembly Health and Senior Citizens committee approved the measure as lawmakers said they expect more battles over pharmacists wanting to opt out of dispensing the drug following the FDA’s decision.
The bill would have the state join Illinois in forcing pharmacists to act against their own personal views and could lead to litigation as an executive order by pro-abortion Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has.
Assemblywoman Linda Stender, a Democrat, sponsored the bill (A992/S1195) but didn’t attend the hearing or vote on the measure.
The bill says the state’s 9,000 pharmacists must fill all prescription drug requests despite "any sincerely held moral, philosophical or religious beliefs" and they must locate a nearby pharmacy selling the drug if it is not in stock.
Kerry Kirk, spokeswoman for the Council on the American Family, testified during the hearing, according to a Star Ledger newspaper report, and said the bill is unconstitutional.
"It’s is a bullying tactic to force professionals to check their values at the door merely for the state to carry out a highly politicized agenda," Kirk said.
The measure appears to go against the views of pharmacists across the country.
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.
The New Jersey Pharmacists Association did not object to the bill, the newspaper indicated, but asked for technical changes.
The measure previous passed the state Senate and the state Assembly must approve it before it goes to the governor.
A pro-life lawmaker is trying to get a pharmacist’s conscience clause approved but hasn’t had much luck.