Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Morning after pill conscience clauses in UK risk unwarranted pregnancies, pharmacists argue

Date:
January 31, 2013
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Conscience clauses, which allow pharmacists to opt out of providing the "morning after pill" without a prescription, risk unwanted pregnancies and undermine the principle of universal healthcare in the UK's National Health Service, say pharmacists.

Conscience clauses, which allow pharmacists to opt out of providing the "morning after pill" without a prescription, risk unwanted pregnancies and undermine the principle of universal healthcare in the UK's National Health Service, say pharmacists in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

These clauses should either be banned or enhanced so that pharmacists and patients know exactly where they stand, rather than the current "fudge," which serves nobody well, the authors conclude.

Emergency hormonal contraception without a prescription became available from UK pharmacies in 2001 and the Republic of Ireland in 2011.

Built-in conscience clauses allow pharmacists to opt-out of provision on moral or religious grounds, providing they refer patients to other providers willing to prescribe the product.

The morning after pill has been the subject of a string of legal challenges, and those who believe it is wrong to provide it, often do so on the grounds that it could harm the developing embryo, say the authors.

But this ignores the principle of patient autonomy -- "a core tenet of contemporary healthcare" -- and arguably begs the question of why those with strong objections to carrying out a routine aspect of their profession should nevertheless opt for a job in which this is required, argue the authors.

"What pharmacists in such cases are demanding is the power of veto over the liberty of others, and over the implementation of public policy," they write.

Under current regulations, pharmacists who hold religious and moral objections to providing the morning after pill must refer women to another appropriate source of supply. This opt out allows them to convince themselves that referral does not constitute supply, say the authors, but what of their professional duty to the patient?

What happens if no such alternative supply is available within the 72 hour time limit in which emergency hormonal contraception works -- a particular issue for women in rural areas, for example -- ask the authors?

There is nothing in the current legislation, or indeed professional guidance, which addresses that, they point out.

"Although the important distinction between objection and obstruction seems to be recognised by the regulatory bodies, they lack the impetus to follow their assertions through to their logical conclusion," they write.

To be morally defensible and legally feasible, rules and regulations governing the supply of the morning after pill must be universally applicable, the authors contend.

"The current status quo is not satisfactory to either conscientious objectors or to those who must regulate them," they write.

"Either [the professional regulators] must compel all pharmacists to dispense emergency hormonal contraception to all patients meeting the clinical criteria who request it….or the pharmacist must refuse both to supply [it] and to refer the patient to an alternative supplier," they argue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. T. Gallagher, A. Holton, L. J. McDonald, P. J. Gallagher. The fox and the grapes: an Anglo-Irish perspective on conscientious objection to the supply of emergency hormonal contraception without prescription. Journal of Medical Ethics, 2013; DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2012-100975

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Morning after pill conscience clauses in UK risk unwarranted pregnancies, pharmacists argue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131084649.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2013, January 31). Morning after pill conscience clauses in UK risk unwarranted pregnancies, pharmacists argue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131084649.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Morning after pill conscience clauses in UK risk unwarranted pregnancies, pharmacists argue." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131084649.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Here are three things you need to know about the deadly Ebola outbreak's progression this week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 28, 2014) The World Health Organisation has called for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as both tobacco and medical products. Ciara Lee looks at the impact of the move on the tobacco industry. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) CDC director Tom Frieden says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than he feared. But he also said there's still hope to contain it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins