Monday, April 11, 2005

How is humiliating a desperate woman ethical?

I just read a BBC article on how some pharmacists in the US are refusing to fill presciptions for contraceptives, including the morning after pill, based on religious beliefs. I've heard of this happening before, but I am always disturbed by these stories. I think that if you can't fill such a common prescription based on your religious beliefs, then you have no business being a pharmacist. I'm sure these pharmacists feel really proud about themselves when they lecture and humiliate a woman who is trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

So what is the solution to this problem? Well, I think if a pharmacy allows its pharmacists to pick and choose what drug prescriptions they will fill, they better make sure they have at least one pharmacist on duty at all times who will fill any and all legal prescriptions. How can it be ethical to deny someone medication?

Update: Here is a post last month from The Disgruntled Chemist weighing in on this issue

Update II: Slate has an excellent article on this issue, including whether or not pharmacists have the right to usurp the judgement of a patient's doctor and links to several editorials and stories on this issue.