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The Corner

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Pharmacists & Conscience



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Wes, that’s an interesting judgment in Illinois.

It’s perhaps worth repeating a post I put up when similar issues were being discussed in the Corner back in 2007.

David, your post raises some extremely intriguing issues. When should reasons of conscience allow people to opt out of aspects of their job? Would you, for example, allow the owner of a drug store to fire a pharmacist he employed if, contrary to his instructions, that pharmacist declined to dispense the ‘morning-after’ pill? The drug store is, after all, his property.

As to the related issue of professionals being forced by the state to do things that they find morally abhorrent as a condition of receiving the license that they need to practice their trade, I wonder what you think about this story from the London Times:

“Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs. Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity. The religious objections by students have been confirmed by the British Medical Association (BMA) and General Medical Council (GMC), which both stressed that they did not approve of such actions.”

Of course there is a big difference between being trained to carry out a procedure, and being compelled actually to do it, but the whole piece is well worth reading: it covers some of the issues, and some of the conundrums, that you raise.

Sadly, the London Times story has since disappeared behind the pay wall, but its drift ought to be clear from the excerpt I cited back then.



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