Appeals Court Rules Wal-Mart Can Ignore Pharmacist’s Conscience Plea

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Appeals Court Rules Wal-Mart Can Ignore Pharmacist’s Conscience Plea Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 5
, 2007

Madison, WI ( — The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that the giant retailer Wal-Mart is not required to respect the conscience rights of a Wisconsin pharmacist. Neil Noeson cited religious objections to filling birth-control prescriptions in what is one of the latest cases involving their ability to opt out of dispensing drugs.

The court found that under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the accommodation Noesen sought would impose an undue hardship on Wal-Mart.

After objecting to filling the birth control prescriptions, Wal-Mart offered to permit Noesen to assist only male customers and women not of childbearing age.

Noesen also wanted to be relieved of all counter and telephone duties unless customers were first pre-screened by others to ensure that they were not seeking birth control.

However, Wal-Mart insisted that Nosen follow the guidelines of all other pharmacy employees in answering the phones and waiting on customers.

The case is Noeson v. Medical Staffing Network, Inc and the ruling comes just weeks after abortion advocates successfully pressured Wal-Mart to revise its policy on the sale and distribution of the morning after pill to make it easier to obtain.

Wal-Mart adopted a new policy ensuring that customers "will now receive their prescriptions or OTC products in store without discrimination (no harassment or lectures)."

Wal-mart pledged to stock the morning after pill in every store where at least one person requests the drug and to assist customers in obtaining the drug if it is not available at a particular location.

The move came after tremendous pressure from Planned Parenthood.