Why a ‘conscience clause’ is essential in assisted suicide legislation

Pharmacists must be allowed to opt out of dispensing lethal prescriptions if assisted suicide is legalised, and this right should be protected in law, says Aileen Bryson, policy and practice lead at Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland.

The Pharmaceutical Joural

Aileen Bryson

Assisted suicide is a sensitive and emotional subject, and if it were legalised many pharmacists would play important roles in the process  –  including requests to dispense prescriptions that would end lives.

So when legislation to allow assisted suicide was proposed in both Scottish and Westminster Parliaments in 2012, the national pharmacy boards of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) developed a policy to address the challenges and issues the profession might encounter.

RPS policy neither supports nor opposes the Bills. But we wanted to ensure politicians understood that the pharmacist’s role reaches far beyond supply, and that pharmacists would need to work in partnership with medical colleagues. Moreover, as healthcare professionals, the concept of dispensing a prescription that would end someone’s life is quite outside the realm of routine pharmacy practice and raises many ethical and practical questions. . . [Full Text]


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