Thursday, March 25, 2010

Britain's Pharmacists and the Conscience Clause.

From the BBC, Britain has decided to keep the same provider refusal laws that exist in the US. Pharmacists who morally object to contraception will be able to legally refuse those services. But discussion in Britain is now taking place that will require refusing pharmacists refer patients to other pharmacies or facilities where they can get the prescription their doctor has given them.

Here in the US, the same question looms over pharmacists. Obama rescinded the 11th hour conscience clause made law by Bush in his last month of the presidency. Obama has yet to take up the issue again, despite strong calls for it's inclusion in the health care bill. Here in the US, the argument continues to be framed as one of provider conscience; the rights of patients seldom make it into the discussion, unfortunately. I hope this conversation does take place in the US; patients' rights need to be considered, explained, and debated on a national scale.

From the article:

A revised code of conduct from the new industry regulator will allow staff to opt out of providing items such as the morning-after pill and contraception.

But they may in future have to give customers details of alternative shops.

The National Secular Society wanted the General Pharmaceutical Council to scrap the so-called conscience clause.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is to take over the regulation of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and the registration of pharmacy premises from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society later this year.

Under its new code, pharmacists with strong religious principles will still be able to continue to refuse to sell or prescribe products if they feel that doing so would contradict their beliefs.

But the GPhC says pharmacists who refuse services could be obliged to tell patients where they can access them and it plans to consult more widely on the issue.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said he was disappointed by the code.

"This was a perfect opportunity to severely restrict the exercise of this supposed conscience clause which has caused a great deal of embarrassment and inconvenience to people recently.

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