Friday, May 06, 2005

A pharmacist's conscience matters; your health and privacy do not

I came across this at DED space: A Milwaukee Walgreen's pharmacist refused to fill a woman's ("Jane Doe" to protect her identity) prescription for EC and followed up by berating the mother of six in front of a full waiting room for trying fill the prescription.
'You're a murderer. I will not help you kill this baby. I will not have the blood on my hands,'" Doe said. "I tried to explain to her that it's emergency contraceptives, that it's not an abortion pill. She then snatched the form from me, that the prescription was attached to, telling me the paper was full of lies, and she won't be a part of it. I was crying, shaking, upset, so embarrassed. I wanted to run out of the store and hope nobody else could get a good look at me."
The woman did not get her prescription filled, got pregnant and ended up having a surgical abortion.
It's a chemical abortion. If there is a fertilized egg, it prevents it from implanting, which causes a chemical abortion,
In short, if she thinks abortion is murder, Walgreen's pharmacist Michelle Long does have blood on her hands. EC neither causes the uterus to expel an implanted blastocyst, nor induces sloughing of the endometrial lining (menstruation) to prevent implantation. If Doe hadn't ovulated and/or conception hadn't occured prior to her attempt to fill the prescription, it's highly likely (more likely than the "if" referenced above) that Long's refusal to fill the prescription caused a pregnancy she knew would aborted to occur.

The so-called "Conscience Clause" was supposedly enacted to allow pharmacist's from refraining from involvement in something they find morally objectionable, not to allow pharmacist's to violate a patient's privacy. Walgreen's policy to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions due to the pharmacist's personal moral objections to use of a legally prescribed medication facilitated the breach of privacy and they are (and should be) enjoined in any resulting lawsuit filed. In addition to losing her pharmacist's license (for the breach of patient privacy), Michelle Long should be required to pay compensatory damages to reimburse Doe for the costs associated with her abortion and any psychological counseling she may need in addition to punitive damages.
Walgreens Mission Statement: Walgreens mission is to offer customers the best drugstore service in America. We are guided by a century-old tradition of fairness, trust and honesty as we continue to expand our store base and offer career opportunities to a fast-growing and diverse group of men and women. Our goal is to develop people who treat customers - and each other - with respect and dignity. We will support these efforts with the most innovative retail thinking, services and technology. The success we achieve will allow us to reinvest in our future and build long-term financial security for our employees and our shareholders.
It's well past time pharmacies stop fooling themselves; they cannot have it both ways. As I've said a kijillion times, if a person does not want the guilt by association they state is forced upon them by filling a prescription for a medication with a use they find offensive or immoral they should not be in that position.
  • Patients should not always wonder if they are the next one who will have their valid prescription refused/confiscated or their privacy violated due to the personal beliefs of pharmacy staff
  • The only way for pharmacy staff to avoid being in a position they find objectionable is to avoid working at pharmacies that do stock these medications with the intent of honoring valid prescriptions
  • The only way for pharmacies to reassure their customers is to make it clear that they either will not stock and fill prescriptions for contraceptives or they will require their staff to fill all valid prescriptions presented in a timely fashion (or transfer the prescription as necessary when the drug really is not in stock)

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