Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pope says pharmacists have right to conscientiously object to fill emergency contraception
Women's Health News - Wednesday, 31-Oct-2007

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday at the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists in Rome told attendees that they have a right to conscientiously object to dispensing drugs such as emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy if take up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse, the AP/ reports (Winfield, AP/, 10/29).

Conscientious objection is a "right that must be recognized for your profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply of products which clearly have immoral aims" -- such as abortion and euthanasia -- Benedict said (Reuters, 10/29).

He also encouraged pharmacists to inform patients on the ethical implications of taking such medications. "Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role," he said (AP/, 10/29). He added, "It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short a person's life" (Reuters, 10/29).

Benedict's remarks "resonated strongly" among Italian pharmacists, who are required to fill prescriptions regardless of their moral or ethical beliefs, according to Federfarma, the national federation that represents 15,500 private pharmacists, the AP/ reports. The federation in a statement said that the country's law would need to be amended to allow for conscientious objection but noted that such a change would be hard to apply because pharmacists could object to dispensing basic contraception or other hormonal medications.

The International Pharmaceutical Federation, which represents pharmaceutical associations worldwide, has a code calling for the continuity of service "in the event of conflict with personal moral beliefs." However, Henri Manasse -- Federfarma's professional secretary -- said the group is updating its standards because new medications constantly introduce new moral issues (AP/, 10/29).

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