Plan B and Conscience Issues

Plan B, which is also known as the “morning-after pill,” is a high dose of contraceptives that can help prevent pregnancy. It can be sold by pharmacists without a prescription for patients 17 and over.

However, there are many who object to it on moral or religious grounds, including some pharmacists.

The pharmacy industry has a long-standing policy for situations like this — briefly stated, it is: Pharmacists can exercise their conscience and decline to dispense such products, but must make alternate arrangements to meet the patients’ needs, even if it means sending them to a competitor. But different states are passing their own laws to govern this, creating further problems for larger retailers.

Depending on the state, the laws are both more and less restrictive of the pharmacists’ right to use their conscience, says John Fegan, VP at Winn-Dixie Stores in Jacksonville, Fla., and most seem to echo the industry’s existing policy.

“We expect pharmacists to use their best judgment and to make arrangements to help people who have chosen whatever product or product line they need for their health,” he notes.
“We respect the person’s right not to dispense something, but we also feel we are in the business to serve the health of the public.” So, if they decide not to dispense something, they need to help the patient obtain it, “whether that be a partner in the same store, another store in the chain or a competitor’s store,” Fegan concludes.
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