Pro-Life Pharmacists Fired
for Refusing to Fill "Morning After"
Source: LifeNews.com February 12, 2004. By Steven Ertelt
Denton, TX (LifeNews.com)
Three pro-life pharmacists have been fired for their refusal to fill a prescription for the so-called morning after pill. The action has revived the debate over whether pharmacists should be able to opt out of filling orders for drugs that can or do cause abortions. According to the Associated Press, Denton, Texas, pharmacist Gene Herr and two co-workers have been fired by Eckerd Corporation. Herr refused to fill a womanís prescription for the "morning after pill" given to her by a doctor after she reported being raped. He said he believes the drug can kill an unborn child shortly after fertilization has taken place. He said he has declined to fill orders for the drug before, but this was the first instance where the customer was a victim of rape. The rape victim went to an Eckerd drug store in Denton on January 23 where the pharmacist worked, but only after visiting several other drug stores that did not stock the morning after drug. She eventually was able to get the prescription filled at a Walgreens pharmacy across the street. "I went in the back room and briefly prayed about it," Herr, who had worked for Eckerd for five years, told AP. "I actually called my pastor at Denton Bible Church and asked him what he thought about it."
Earlier this month, Joan Gallagher, Eckerdís vice president for communications, said Herr was disciplined but did not mention what actions the drug store chain took. "A pharmacist is obliged to fill a prescription if it is a valid, legal prescription," Gallagher said. "We do not make exceptions for any moral, religious or ethical concerns with regard to filling the prescription." She said Eckerdís employment manual says pharmacists may not opt out of filling drug scripts for religious or moral reasons. Herr told AP he was unaware of the policy until informed of it shortly before he lost his job. "In my mind if I agree to work for someone knowing that thatís their policy, then I should submit to that policy. But I didnít even know about it," Herr indicated. Herr would not name the two other pharmacists who were also fired.
Pro-life groups say that pharmacists should be able to opt out of dispensing drugs that can or do cause abortions, just as other health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, can choose not to perform abortions without facing job consequences. "Health care providers, including pharmacists, should be never be forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they are morally opposed," Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life told LifeNews.com. "Forcing a pharmacist to participate in abortion through prescribing a pill that could cause a chemical abortion is outrageous." More than two dozen pro-abortion protesters camped out in front of the Eckerd store during the week after the prescription wasnít filled. "To be faced with a pharmacist who moralizes to her, we find outrageous," Kathryn Allen of Planned Parenthood of Texas told WFAA-TV. "This is not a chemical abortion; this is a large dose of birth control pills to prevent an unwanted pregnancy."
The State Board of Pharmacy in Austin said pharmacists can refuse to
fill a prescription but only on medical grounds, not over moral concerns.
Gene Rudd, associate director of the Christian Medical Association says
forty-five states have passed conscience clause laws for physicians, and
that protection could be extended to pharmacistsóas has been done in Illinois
and South Dakota. Legislation to protect pharmacists has failed in
some states and pending in others. Florida-based Eckerd is owned
by Texas-based retailer J.C. Penney.
ACTION: Let the Eckerd Corporation know how you feel. Contact the
company at PO Box 4689, Clearwater, FL, 33758, call 1-800-325-3737,
fax a letter to 727-395-7063 or send an email message by going to
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