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\u22Conscience Clauses\u22 or \u22Unconscionable Clauses\u22: Personal Beliefs Versus Professional Responsibilities

By Martha S Swartz


In 2002, a University of Wisconsin student brought a prescription for Loestrin to pharmacist Neil Noesen, who was working in a local community pharmacy in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Noesen refused to fill the prescription, citing his \u22conscientious objection to participation in refilling a contraceptive order.\u22 He failed to ask the student whether she had any medical conditions that might make pregnancy dangerous. He also refused to inform her of any other local pharmacies that were capable of filling the prescription. When the student, on her own, located another pharmacy, Noesen refused to transfer the prescription, claiming that doing so would \u22induce another to do a morally wrong or sinful act pursuant to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.\u22 As a result, the student was unable to take her medication as prescribed and risked pregnancy. Pharmacists in a number of other states-including California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington-have also refused to fill similar prescriptions. Some pharmacists will only dispense birth control pills to married women; others refuse to provide the pills to anyone, mistakenly believing emergency contraception to be an abortafacient; still others, like Noesen, \u22hold prescriptions hostage\u22 so that women are unable to take the prescriptions to other pharmacies

Topics: Health Law and Policy, Law, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2013
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