Posted on Wed, May. 04, 2005
MY VIEW: PHARMACISTS SHOULD HAVE TO FILL ORDERS
BY JULIE BURKHART
There is an alarming trend among pharmacists who believe it is appropriate to force their personal beliefs on the very people they have pledged to serve in our communities across this nation. Some pharmacists do this by refusing to sell their female customers various methods of birth control.
It is reprehensible that these medical professionals would stand in self-righteous judgment of those seeking prescription medications for appropriate and legal medical care.
The American Pharmacists Association published a Code of Ethics for Pharmacists in 1994 to regulate licensed professionals. Section III recognizes and "promotes the right of self-determination and recognizes the individual self-worth by encouraging patients to participate in decisions about their health.... In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients."
Section VIII states that a "pharmacist seeks justice in the distribution of health resources. When health resources are allocated, a pharmacist is fair and equitable, balancing the needs of patients and society."
Refusing to fill prescriptions based on personal ethical background is a violation of a pharmacist's professional obligation.
The American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project released a report in 2002 that found a majority of U.S. citizens overwhelmingly opposed allowing health care providers to deny services on the basis of religious or moral objections. A remarkable 86 percent of those polled opposed allowing pharmacies to refuse to fill prescriptions based on religious beliefs.
American pharmacists should fill every prescription across the board, regardless of their own morals. The privacy between the patient, physician and pharmacist should remain strictly confidential.
Ultraconservative pharmacists are creating media frenzy and forsaking the bonds of privacy by violating their professional oath. In contrast, responsible pharmacists equitably serve the needs of the patient rather than furthering their own moralistic, political agendas.
A pharmacist's position in society is not to act as an activist for the anti-choice movement. Instead, pharmacists should compassionately recognize the inherent worth of their clients and be accepting of their clients' personal, religious and cultural differences. Unfortunately, misogynistic undertones haunt these pharmacists who discriminate against women by not providing access to birth control.
Women deserve to be provided with the highest quality of care and to be trusted with issues regarding their own bodies.
Julie Burkhart of Wichita is executive director of ProKanDo, a pro-choice political action committee.