Nova Scotia, Canada
27 December, 2002
Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project
This response to your article Bacon, eggs and peace of mind: Pharmacists, Planned Parenthood push for prescription-free morning-after pill (17 November, 2002) has been delayed by the need to consult the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists.
With respect to the ‘morning-after-pill’, your article attributed the following quote to Kelly Grover of Planned Parenthood: “Nobody is forcing pharmacists to prescribe this. There is a code of ethics that requires them to refer patients.”
In fact, the College’s Code of Ethics does not require referral. A pharmacist who objects to providing a drug for reasons of conscience is to advise an employer of that fact when being hired. It then becomes the obligation of the employer, not the pharmacist, to find an alternative means to deliver the drug.
The disclosure requirement in the Code of Ethics is intended to ensure that the freedom of conscience of pharmacists is fully respected, without preventing patients from getting drugs or services that they want. Unscrupulous employers could misuse the disclosure requirement by using it to identify conscientious objectors and deny them employment. One hopes that the College will defend pharmacists against this form of discrimination, as it would be a pity to see Nova Scotians forced to leave home to seek employment in more tolerant environments.