Freedom of Conscience Recognized


5 June, 2000

Protection of Conscience Project

Pharmacists in Manitoba have decided that they should not be forced to be involved in medical procedures that they find morally abhorrent.

The Annual General Meeting of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association adopted a policy that pharmacists may refuse to dispense certain drugs for reasons of conscience. Such  policies exist in the United States, but it is believed that this is the first time a  pharmacists’ association in Canada has formally recognized the importance of freedom of conscience.

News of the development was conveyed to the Protection of Conscience Project in a letter from Ronald F. Guse, Registrar of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association.

The Association rejected a clause that would have forced conscientious objectors to involve themselves by making a referral to another pharmacist.

“Pharmacists in Manitoba who voted for this measure should be congratulated and thanked by their colleagues,” said Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project. “The present concern among conscientious objectors is the so-called ‘morning-after-pill’. However, if non-objecting pharmacists do not support their colleagues on this issue, they should expect no support if they object to  dispensing drugs for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and execution by lethal injection.”

“If that seems somewhat far-fetched,” Murphy added, “the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia is already speculating about the expansion of pharmacy services to include such procedures.”

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