by Steven Ertelt
February 4, 2008
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — A South Dakota Senate panel has approved a bill that would limit the pharmacist’s conscience clause the medical professionals enjoy there. South Dakota is one of the few states to allow pharmacists to object to dispensing a drug because it could cause an abortion, but the bill overturns that right.
SB 164 would prevent pharmacists from using their moral or religious objection to abortion as a reason for opting out of dispensing a drug, such as birth control or the morning after pill.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-3 for the measure and now it heads to the full Senate for its consideration.
The bill says women wanting such drugs would be able "to obtain and use safe and effective methods of contraception without interference of government entities."
Kate Looby, director of Planned Parenthood in South Dakota, supported the bill while Rita Houglum of South Dakota Eagle Forum, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sioux Falls, and the South Dakota Family Policy Council opposed it.
South Dakota joins Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi as the only states to protect the rights of pharmacists to opt out of dispensing drugs that violate their pro-life views.
Last month, the Indiana Senate voted 30-18 for a pharmacist’s conscience clause.
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.