Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience supports Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association

News Release

Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience

The professional group Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience supports and applauds the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association’s courageous inclusion of a model statement in their Standards of Practice, which does not require pharmacists with conscientious objections to refer patients. Patient access to legally prescribed therapy would continue to be available without compromising the health professionals’ right of conscientious refusal.

Ms. Maria Bizecki, spokesperson for Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience, says “Pharmacists  in Manitoba can now exercise their freedom of conscience rights without fear for their noble livelihood. Pharmacists are presently objecting to participate as agents of death, not attempting to block access or give moral pep talks at the pharmacy counter.”

Bizecki futher added that as the Canadian Medical Association does not require doctors to participate in or refer for abortions, all pharmacists must also be protected     nationally by their associations. “By pushing their morality on health care workers, the public violates a pharmacist’s autonomy, integrity and basic human rights in  a country that protects its minorities.”

For further information: Ms. Maria Bizecki, spokesperson Tel: (403) 228-2190  Fax:(403) 228-2249

 

Project letter to the editor, Globe and Mail

(Not published)

Joy Thompson and Hazelle Palmer betray a fundamental misunderstanding of conscientious objection in their criticism of Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience (Don’t let drug stores become pulpits, Globe & Mail, 26 April 2000).

Pharmacists who have moral objections to dispensing the morning after pill usually assert that a new, unique and living human being begins to exist – and pregnancy begins – with the union of sperm and egg. This union they call conception or fertilization. These are hardly novel propositions in an era when fertilization is accomplished routinely in petri dishes, the resulting early embryos kept alive and matured pending implantation – or civil litigation.

The morning after pill prevents the union of sperm and egg only if it is taken in time to suppress ovulation. In other cases, it brings about the death of the early embryo by preventing implantation in the womb. This is the crux of the moral problem faced by pharmacists who hold that it is gravely wrong to deliberately cause the death of the developing human being at any point after conception.

Planned Parenthood and The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada think that the morning after pill is a good thing. They call it ‘emergency contraception’, they claim that it does not cause abortions, and they ridicule those who disagree. “Out of step with medical community”, “professionally irresponsible, or blatantly uninformed”, and “inventing a controversy” are the accusations hurled from the Planned Parenthood pulpit at conscientious objectors.

The controversy being invented here arises from a difference in terminology. Thompson and Palmer et al define conception – and the beginning of pregnancy – as implantation of the early embryo in the womb, not as the union of sperm and egg. Thus, in their view, ‘contraception’ includes not only drugs or devices that prevent conception (fertilization), but anything that prevents implantation of the early embryo. That is why they describe the morning after pill as a ‘contraceptive’, regardless of its mechanism, and insist that it does not interfere with pregnancy. In their lexicon, the existence of the early embryo following fertilization does not count as pregnancy unless implantation occurs, and the destruction of the embryo prior to implantation is not abortion. The public can hardly be expected to make sense of the present dispute unless these points are clarified.

Out of step with medical community? The Canadian Medical Association advises physicians who have moral objections to abortion to explain this to their patients, and insists that there be no discrimination against physicians who refuse to perform or assist with abortions. Dr. John Williams, the CMA’s Director of Ethics, recently confirmed that doctors are not obliged to refer patients for abortions. “Respect for the right of personal decision in this area must be stressed,” states CMA policy. Is the respect given to doctors to be denied pharmacists and other health care professionals because powerful interests are able to shout them down?

Contrary to Thompson and Palmer’s assertions, conscientious objectors are not trying to prevent the introduction of abortifacient or contraceptive drugs, nor are they attempting to block access to them. These are impossible objectives for such a vulnerable minority with limited means. Instead, they simply ask that they not be hounded out of their professions because they will not do what they believe to be gravely wrong. Does The Best Country in the World have room for such people?

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

British Columbia pharmacists ‘must refer or dispense’

The Canadian Medical Association Journal announced that 500 pharmacists in British Columbia would be dispensing the ‘morning after pill’ without a prescription. A bulletin from the College of Pharmacists of B.C. (March-April 2000) stated that pharmacists with conscientious objections to dispensing the drug would be required to refer patients, or dispense the drug themselves if that was not possible. The bulletin also noted that future pharmacy services might expand to include drugs for suicide, cloning, genetic manipulation or execution.

 

Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons challenged to think about conscience rights

News Releases

Canadian Physicians for Life

Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to verify the alleged charges of women being bullied by pro-life physicians.

The tone of the statement from College Councillor Dr. Eugene Kretzul is patronizing and dismissive of the conscience rights of doctors. The “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” suggestion that morally troublesome issues need only be referred to a colleague is oblivious to the principled objections of pro-life physicians.  Increasingly exotic reproductive technologies may eventually offend even the most laissez-faire physicians. There may come a day where no physician feels free from coercion to violate his or her conscience.

The “pro-choice” Alberta College apparently lacks tolerance for physicians’ choice to be pro-life. The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association requires physicians to “inform a patient when their personal morality would influence the recommendation or practice of any medical procedure that the patient needs or wants.” The Alberta College suggests pro-life doctors go further: usher abortion requesters into the abortion-on-demand system or face the charge of being unprofessional.

In Alberta, as elsewhere, it is often easier for women to obtain an abortion than support and counseling services. For a woman to make a truly “informed decision” she must be presented with the embryology of her   unborn child so that she will know that she is aborting a human being, not just a clump of cells or a piece of her own tissues. She deserves more than the wave-through suggested by the College’s statement.

A number of studies report a close correlation between abortion, especially of a first pregnancy, and breast cancer. Are Alberta physicians telling abortion seekers of this threat to their health? Are women being informed of the risk of post-abortion emotional trauma? Are patients being warned that some physicians’ ardent pro-abortion beliefs bias the “counselling” process?

And if abortion seekers have complained of being bullied, has the College conducted diligent enquiries into such serious accusations? What was the outcome? Or is polemical hearsay the College’s new standard of evidence when the target is pro-life doctors?

In plain English, independent medical professionals have no duty to refer anyone to anyone when the referral would violate the conscience and the medical good judgement of the professional. This elementary conscience  protection impartially shields doctors who possess any convictions on any topic at all. Whether the request be for genital mutilation, the amputation of a healthy limb, or an abortion, the true professional will never be coerced into offending his or her basic principles. Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the Alberta College to retract and clarify its venture into professional conscience ethics.

Will Johnston, M.D.

Secretary-Treasurer

For further information
Canadian Physicians for Life Administration
Phone (604) 794-3772; Fax (604) 794-3960
Email: info@physiciansforlife.ca