Federal bill would require pharmacists to fill contraception prescriptions

[JURIST] In response to recent refusals by some pharmacists objecting on moral grounds to filling prescriptions for emergency contraceptives or birth control pills, federal legislators unveiled a draft bill [PDF] on Thursday that would require pharmacies to fill all prescriptions, placing the impetus on the pharmacy and not on individual pharmacists. Sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the bill is strongly supported by women's rights advocates including NARAL Pro-Choice America [advocacy website]. Pharmacists for Life [advocacy website] and other conservative groups have announced their opposition to the bill. The American Pharmacists Association [professional association website] supports allowing pharmacists to follow their conscience, but states than an alternative should be available to fill the prescription. Reuters has more. Sen. Lautenberg's office has issued a press release on the proposed law.

On the state level, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed an emergency order [press release; press conference video] on April 1 requiring Illinois pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception even if it violates their religious beliefs; on April 13, two affected pharmacists filed a lawsuit [AP report; ACLJ press release] claiming that the rule was unenforceable and violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act [text; more information on protection of conscience laws]. The litigation is ongoing.

 

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