Montana Board Rejects Planned Parenthood Anti-Pharmacist Request
by Steven Ertelt
April 24, 2008
Helena, MT (LifeNews.com) — The Montana Pharmacy Board, after more than an hour of testimony yesterday, refused to consider a proposal from abortion business Planned Parenthood to force pharmacists to sell the morning after pill. Two pharmacists, supported by the Montana Family Foundation, asked the board to oppose the idea.
The board agreed with their contention that it should not contravene the legislative process on such a controversial issue and allow state lawmakers to set formal policy instead.
"We must remember this is a short term victory," MFF president Jeff Laszloffy told LifeNews.com after the vote. "Planned Parenthood will bring forth legislation in the next legislative session to force health care professionals to act against their will."
Pro-life advocates have long been worried about efforts to force pharmacists to dispense the Plan B drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion.
They also worry the next step will involve making pharmacists dispense the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug or narcotics used in assisted suicides.
Laszloffy said his group is working on legislation in the next session of the Montana legislature to protect the rights of pharmacists to opt out of dispensing drugs like these that violate their moral or religious beliefs.
He wants to make sure Montana "will protect health care professionals from being forced to participate in activities that violate their conscience."
According to an AP report, Montana Pharmacy Board president Jim Cloud of Stevensville said the state has no law requiring pharmacists to stock every drug and he said the board would leave the question at that.
Last month, the Montana Board of Pharmacy dropped all complaints over John Lane’s decision not to dispense the morning after pill.
Lane, a pharmacist in the small southeast town of Broadus, had 11 complaints filed against him with the board by abortion advocates.
On March 5, the pharmacy board met to decide if it would further investigate the complaints. That probe could have resulted in an official reprimand or the revoking of Lane’s pharmacists license.
An attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund represented Lane before a screening panel of the board.
ADF officials told Lifenews.com that, at the meeting, the board dismissed the complaints against Lane, stating he had not violated the law.
Pro-life pharmacists shouldn’t be penalized for abiding by their beliefs," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Byron Babione told LifeNews.com. Respecting the right to not sell these items doesn’t impose an ideology on anyone. Forcing a pharmacist to sell them does."
ADF-allied attorney Matthew Monforton, a Bozeman-based lawyer, represented Lane at the hearing with help from ADF Litigation Counsel David Sheasby.
Neither the government nor an employer should make people choose between their faith and their job, said Monforton. The board did the right thing by recognizing that Mr. Lane did nothing to violate the law.
That decision prompted abortion advocates, including the ACLU, NARAL’s Montana affiliate, WEEL, and the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to try to get the board to force pharmacists to dispense the controversial drug.
Planned Parenthood representative Stacey Anderson told AP her group will continue to work to try to get the board to intervene and she said the makeup of the state legislature is too volatile to try to get it to make policy that will stay on the books.