by Steven Ertelt
June 13, 2007
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — The New Jersey Assembly voted 56-18 on Monday for a bill that would force pharmacists in the state to fill prescriptions for all legal drugs — including those that would violate their moral or religious beliefs. The measure means pharmacists must fill orders for the morning after pill and it could eventually lead to forcing them to dispense abortion or euthanasia drugs.
Four members of the Assembly abstained from voting on the measure that now heads to the desk of pro-abortion Gov John Corzine.
The Senate had already approved the bill 31-6 this time last year.
Corzine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan made it appear in comments to the Associated Press that the governor is prepared to sign the bill.
"It is important New Jerseyans are not denied medical care in a way that respects people’s deeply held religious beliefs," Gilfillan said.
However, Marie Tasy, with New Jersey Right to Life, said the measure was discriminatory and subjected pharmacists to an unconstitutional religious test for those who oppose handing out the Plan B drug.
“It discriminates against pharmacists. … It says if you have religious beliefs, you need not apply," she told AP.
Tasy also said the bill puts pharmacists, who are medical professionals, in a lesser position than doctors and nurses, who are allowed to opt out of involvement in an abortion under state law. She said pharmacists deserve the same sort of conscience clause.
Six other states have laws forcing pharmacists to dispense all legal drugs despite their moral or religious convictions and another four states have laws allowing pharmacists to opt out of dispensing objectionable drugs.
Pro-abortion members of Congress have proposed a bill that would implement such a policy nationwide by requiring pharmacists to dispense birth control and the morning after pill, which can cause an abortion in some instances. Under the bill, pharmacists who decline to dispense such drugs could be required to pay as much as $500,000 in fines.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, both Democrats, are the key sponsors of the House and Senate versions of the bill, called the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act.
Pharmacies would be required to make sure there are no delays in getting birth control drugs or the morning after pill to customers "without delay." If the pills are out of stock, pharmacies would be forced to order them or refer customers to drug stores that have them on hand.
Pro-life groups say the legislation deliberately attacks pharmacists who exercise professional moral judgment and tramples on any professional or ethical concerns.
Pro-life groups have objected to the bill and will ask lawmakers to oppose it.
"Pharmacists are professionals, not vending machines," Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America told LifeNews.com.
"The FDA has been known to make mistakes in approving drugs, and doctors have made mistakes in prescribing. Pharmacists provide a line of defense to ensure that patients’ lives and health are protected and can make patients aware of ethical concerns," she added.
"Yet this bill would punish pharmacists up to $500,000 for acting on their ethical duty," Wright said, pointing to the $5,000 fine per day of violation.