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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pharmacist Denies Anti-Bleeding Medication Because Woman Might Have Had an Abortion

Pharmacist Denies Anti-Bleeding Medication Because Woman Might Have Had an Abortion | Women's Rights | Change.org
A pharmacist at a Nampa, Idaho, Walgreens refused to dispense medication that stops uterine bleeding because she suspected the woman may have had an abortion. The pharmacist invoked the state's new so-called conscience clause that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives and abortifacient drugs, among other things, if they have a personal problem with it.

Last November, a woman took her prescription for Methergine, a drug that stops uterine bleeding regardless of cause, to Walgreens. The pharmacist, suspicious that the woman's uncontrolled bleeding may have been the result of an abortion, called the nurse practitioner who wrote the prescription to inquire why the patient needed it. When the nurse refused to answer because to do so would violate the patient's confidentiality, the pharmacist hung up on her and refused to fill the prescription.

Essentially, the pharmacist was saying that, while her conscience was just dandy with letting a woman bleed out, it would have a problem saving her life if it was even a possibility that the blood loss was connected to an abortion. The pharmacist's conscience being so fickle, apparently also prevented her from even referring the woman to a pharmacy who would fill her prescription, leaving her alone, bleeding, and lost. Someone care to explain to me how this qualifies as pro-life?

The problem here is bigger than one anti-choice pharmacist. One of the biggest problems with conscience clauses is that they single out one issue (reproductive care) and make it okay for individuals to deny care based on their personal feelings on the issue. People argue that health care professionals shouldn't have to provide care they disagree with. Really? So then should racist doctors be able to opt out of treating people of color, anti-Semitic nurses ignore Jewish patients, or sexist pharmacists deny medicine to women? For examples that hit even closer to home: why not have pharmacists allowed to deny single men erectile dysfunction medication and pain pills (you never know, they might be related to a vasectomy)?

It is both ridiculous and dangerous to allow women's medical care to be at the whim of the feelings of people like that Walgreen pharmacist. According to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, who filed a complaint with Walgreens, the pharmacy in question has taken undisclosed "corrective action" in this case. That is not enough. Ask Walgreens to make sure that their pharmacists are trained on exactly what they do and do not have the right to opt out of and how to properly handle instances where they exercise that option, including providing referrals. It is what anyone with a conscience would do.


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