Thursday, April 28, 2005

You Don't Have To Do Your Job If It Is Against Your Morals

As reported on A-1 of this past Sundays Greensboro News and Record, Rep. Jeff Barnhart(Republican) of Cabarrus County, introduced a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse birth control, emergency contraceptives, or whatever they want based on their moral values and beliefs. The bill is titled, "Conscience Protection", and is bill H1407 . The bill is co-sponsored by Republicans Mitch Gillespie(Minority Whip- Burke and McDowell Counties), Mark K. Hilton(Catawba County), Wm. C. "Bill" McGee(Forsyth County), and Edgar V. Starnes(Caldwell County).

The American Pharmacist's Association has the Code of Ethics a Pharmacist is expected to follow and the Oath that a Pharmacist takes when becoming a Pharmacist. Under the Code of Ethics Section III: "A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient.
A pharmacist promotes the right of self-determination and recognizes individual self-worth by encouraging patients to participate in decisions about their health. A pharmacist communicates with patients in terms that are understandable. In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.
" Read all the sections.

The Oath of A Pharmacist is also available at the APHA website. It is in Powerpoint format. For those that don't have PP here it is in full:

Oath of a Pharmacist

At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy.

I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.

I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve.

I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.

I will maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical and legal conduct.

I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.

I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.

A Pharmacist provides a service that he/she is paid to do. A doctor prescribes pharmaceuticals based on their diagnosis of a patient. A patient brings their prescription to a Pharmacy and has it filled. They can not go anywhere else legally to have this prescription filled. If a Pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription based on their moral or ethical beliefs, they are not only not doing their job/Oath, but going against the Code of Ethics they are required to follow. It is a pharmacists job to ensure a patients access to legally prescribed medications.

I have no problem with a pharmacist denying to fill a prescription based on the date it is written for, insurance reasons, etc... When a pharmacist steps into the realm of preaching their values to a patient, they might want to consider being a preacher instead. I know several pharmacists, several whom are religious. One told me that, "they don't agree with some of the prescriptions they have to fill, but they do. My way of dealing with it is to pray for that person." That is completely fine. I respect that more then anyone can imagine.

I have no problem with any religion. I don't personally believe in any organized religion, but I do not denounce them either. Being spiritual with out all the fanfare isn't a bad thing. When I refer to the religious right, I refer to the most extreme side of the right. Not every Republican Christian is an abortion clinic bomber. They are probably the minority amongst the right. I don't care what religion you believe in, and you shouldn't care about mine. That is why the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of The United States included freedom of religion.

As you all know, I despise SUV's. If I got a job as a car salesman and was asked to sell an SUV to a customer and refused on my environmental beliefs, I would be fired. Based on my job description of salesman and failure to perform the duty I was hired to do. As a pharmacist, you are hired to dispense legal prescriptions to patients, based on your knowledge, Oath and Code. Failure to do so should result in termination. I can't think of any other job that you can say I don't believe in that, I am not doing it, and not get fired. That goes for the military too. It is OK to kill people in war, if you choose not to, you get court marshaled. All I am saying is, if you are hired to do a job, do it. What you believe personally, is your business, but no one else's. Don't impose your way of life on others, let others have their own way of life. That is what this country was built on.

My idea to fix this problem is simple. The groups that believe that the emergency contraceptive and birth control pills and anything else for that matter should not be sold, should put their money behind a company that does refuse to sell these products. The pharmacists that have their beliefs should go work there and no one would have a problem. A whole chain of these stores nationwide, so everyone has a choice. After all being free is all about having choices isn't it?

In the mean time, write your Representatives and let them know you want a choice and you don't want to be told what to do. This argument may not stop at these particular pharmaceuticals. What if your pharmacist knows you are a single male and refuses you your Viagra, because it promotes your pre-marital sex? What if your pharmacist is a Jehova's Witness and denies you your insulin based on religious beliefs? What if you live in rural Kansas and there is only one pharmacy remotely close to where you live? This is a very complex issue and I can't wait to see how it plays out.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.