Indiana Senate Ties on Pharmacist Conscience Clause on Abortion, Euthanasia

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Indiana Senate Ties on Pharmacist Conscience Clause on Abortion, Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 25,

Indianapolis, IN ( — A bill that would provide a pharmacist’s conscience clause stalled in the Indiana Senate on Thursday after lawmakers tied 24-24 on a vote on the measure. The legislation isn’t dead yet because it could receive another vote in days, but it requires 26 votes, a majority, to be approved and sent to the state House.

The measure, Senate Bill 3, allows the medical professionals to opt out of dispensing drugs that could cause an abortion or be used in an assisted suicide.

Pharmacists would receive protection from any legal discipline and employers would be charged with a crime for penalizing any employee who followed the provisions in the bill.

Sen. Jeff Drozda, a Republican, says the bill is needed to protect pharmacists who don’t want to be forced to dispense drugs that violate their religious or moral beliefs.

However, Sen. Vi Simpson, a pro-abortion Democrat, said the bill could allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception or the morning after pill based on their beliefs.

Drozda said other states have similar laws and that no one would go without a prescription. He hopes to have another vote on the bill in coming days.

During the committee hearing on the measure, the Indiana PharmacistsAlliance said it knows of no instance of a state pharmacist facing discipline for failing to give out such drugs but Drozda said he has a constituent who came under scrutiny for not dispensing the morning after pill.

He said he patterned the bill after a similar South Dakota law and currently just four states have legislation on the books protecting pharmacists, including Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

At least one survey has shown a majority of Americans believe pharmacists should be given a conscience clause to protect their moral and religious views.

The Baraga Interactive polling firm conducted the survey for Pharmacists for Life International and found that a majority of Americans favor pharmacists being able to enjoy freedom of conscience when filling or counseling about drugs.

Sixty-five percent support a pharmacist’s right to decline to fill or counsel for prescription drugs which violate their moral or religious views.