Plan B: Pharmacists’ Versus Patients’ Rights

Mar 22, 2004

By George Anderson

A number of states are considering legislation that would allow pharmacists the right to refuse filling a prescription for the so-called morning-after pill or Plan B without
fear of losing their jobs or being sued, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina and Washington have all seen bills introduced that would leave the decision to fill a prescription up to the pharmacist.

Abortion opponents who believe life begins at conception see it as ending a life because the pill blocks “fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus.”

Groups such as Planned Parenthood see the issue quite differently.

“They (pharmacists) have an ethical obligation to meet the needs of the patient,” said Susanne Martinez, vice president of Planned Parenthood. “We don’t want to see barriers
put in front of women who need a prescription filled. That could hurt a lot of people.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the issue of pharmacists’ versus patients’ rights when it comes to
the morning-after pill?

CVS and Walgreen’s allow their pharmacists to let a colleague fill the prescription for Plan B if they are morally opposed to doing so. Not every drugstore
has the same staffing depth as CVS or Walgreen’s, however.

Ron Fitzwater, executive director of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, expressed concern for patients in rural areas where there may be only one pharmacist
and women may be limited in access to other options for Plan B.

“We support pharmacists’ rights,” he told the LA Times. “The key is ensuring patients’ access.” George
Anderson – Moderator

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