APhA Defends "Conscience Clauses"

SEPTEMBER 01, 2005
Ken Rankin

Public outrage over the refusal of some pharmacists to dispense drugs for abortion or birth control, plus the recent condemnation of pharmacist "conscience clauses" by the American Medical Association's House of Delegates, has prompted pharmacy leaders to defend the right of pharmacists to "step away from participating in activity to which they have personal objections."

In reaffirming its position on the issue, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) said that it "supports the pharmacists' ability to choose not to fill a prescription based on moral or ethical values." Yet, it also "supports the establishment of systems to ensure that the patient's health care needs are served."

"Despite the alarming headlines, pharmacists and physicians agree" that "patients should receive their medications without harassment and interference," APhA Executive Vice President John Gans said. By the same token, however, he added that, "just as physicians are not required to provide all medical services, pharmacists should not be required to provide all pharmacy services."

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.