Pharmacists for Life Int’l/Canada (PFLI/Canada) is an educational group concerned with sanctity of human life issues affecting the profession. We appreciate and applaud the noble decision of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association to include in their Standards of Practice a statement which allows the professionals that they regulate to follow their conscience in the practice of this health care profession.
Since the statement does not force a pharmacist to dispense or make referrals for products or services “in which they have a medical, ethical, moral or religious objection to, the Association shows its recognition of the pharmacist’s autonomy and integrity. By allowing a freedom of conscience, pharmacists are not impaired in the proper exercise of professional judgment and skills”, said Mr. Michael Izzotti, coordinator of PFLI/Canada.
For many years the profession has been encouraging all pharmacists to become more involved in the practice of “pharmaceutical care”, in which pharmacists provide cognitive services to the public, as well as, supplying products which are intended to achieve specific “health outcomes” for the patient. Mr. Izzotti stated that in the provision of pharmaceutical care, “causing death of a human being is not included in the list of “health outcomes.” He also stated, “that to many pharmacists, the practice of proper pharmaceutical care would exclude the provision of any products that are intended to cause death, including chemicals for assisted suicides, euthanasia and those which can cause abortions.”
Contact: Michael Izzotti, Coordinator PFLI/Canada Tel: (905)528-4828 Fax: (905)528-5593
Pharmacists are critically thinking individuals who integrate their values into their work life-and they are not mere robots who are glorified order-takers for physicians. We should be promoting such thinking, not punishing it.–Nancy Metcalfe, pharmacist
Pharmacists are said to be the most trusted professionals in medicine; they’re conscientious; we rely on their discretion and their judgment; they have our confidence; we respect them; but do pharmacists respect themselves, let alone one another?
It’s a good question, because in Canada, pharmacists, unlike doctors, find that conscientious objection is a bitter pill for their professional licensing organizations to swallow.
The pharmacists’ governors pay lip service to a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense products, but, in fact, a customer’s convenience trumps a pharmacist’s freedoms of conscience and religion: pharmacists are free to object but in the end they must refer or otherwise help customers get the objectionable product. [Full text]
5 June, 2000
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.”
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