Bills Would Aid Pharmacists Under Conscience Law

NEW YORK, MAR. 15, 2001 ( Lawmakers in four states are pushing legislation that would provide job protection to pharmacists who refuse to dispense legal drugs, such as the «morning-after pill,» on moral grounds, the Fox network reports.

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The bills, being proposed in Ohio, Indiana, Kansas and Kentucky, are versions of a 1998 South Dakota law that lets pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions if it conflicts with their beliefs, Fox said.

Supporters of the job protection bills say the proposed law offers pharmacists the same protection already available to doctors and other health-care workers who can cite ethical considerations when making medical decisions.

Both sides are watching a case heading into court in May in which a former pharmacist for Kmart is suing the giant retailer for wrongful termination because she was fired for refusing to fill a prescription for the morning-after drug.

In 1996, Karen Brauer refused to dispense the drug that prevents the implantation of an embryo because it constitutes an abortion. After she was fired, she filed a federal wrongful termination lawsuit against the company, claiming the termination violated an Ohio law that allows pharmacists to refuse to participate in medical procedures that result in abortion.

However, Kmart responded that dispensing pills is not a medical procedure and that pharmacists are not protected by the conscience law.

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