Press Release: Senate Committee to Hear Pharmacists Conscience Clause Bill

Wisconsin Bloggers take note: Convenience should not trump conscience, says Pro-Life Wisconsin

The Senate Committee on Labor and Election Process Reform will hold a public hearing Tuesday, May 17 at the State Capitol highlighting legislation to provide much needed job security for pharmacists who conscientiously object to dispensing drugs that they believe would be used to cause death through abortion, euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide.

"No pharmacist should be forced to check his or her conscience at the workplace door," said Matt Sande, legislative affairs director for Pro-Life Wisconsin. "Like doctors and nurses, pharmacists are valued members of the professional health care team. This bill simply recognizes that employers must not force pharmacists to participate in what they know to be the killing of another person. One person’s convenience should not trump another’s conscience."

Current Wisconsin law already protects health care employees, including physicians, nurses, and hospital employees, from being fired or otherwise discriminated against based on a conscientious refusal to participate in surgical abortion and sterilization. Senate Bill (SB) 155, authored by State Senator Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis), would extend that conscience protection to pharmacists who refuse to participate in chemical abortion and euthanasia.

"Assaults on human life are increasingly chemical in nature, not surgical," said Sande. "Abortion techniques focusing on chemical means to end the life of pre-born babies, such as the morning-after-pill, have received FDA approval. While abortion was formerly relegated to a clinical setting, it is now possible to receive life-ending drugs in a pharmacy, thus compelling pharmacists to be party to abortion. Just as a woman’s legal right to a surgical abortion should not compel a hospital to provide one, a woman’s legal right to abortifacient drugs and devices should not compel a pharmacist to dispense them."

Under SB 155, a licensed pharmacist cannot be required to dispense a prescribed drug or device if the pharmacist believes the drug or device will be used for causing an abortion or causing the death of any person, such as through assisted suicide or euthanasia. Specifically, pharmacists would be exempt from professional liability or disciplinary action and would be shielded from employment discrimination based on creed – including refusal to hire a pharmacist or termination of the pharmacist’s employment.

The pharmacists conscience clause bill is the ONLY bill that protects pharmacists who conscientiously refuse to dispense the morning-after pill and other abortion-causing “hormonal contraceptives.”

Opponents of Senate Bill 155 claim that it would ban birth control in Wisconsin. "This is not true," said Sande. "Senate Bill 155 does not ban birth control. It will not make drugs such as the morning-after pill and other abortifacient birth control drugs illegal or unavailable. It is a labor protection bill, and thus reaches a middle ground where the pharmacist can be protected and the woman can access her prescription."

The issue of pharmacists being fired for conscientiously refusing to dispense abortion-causing birth control has received national and international attention. The BBC News, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, CBS Evening News, and CNN, to name just a few media sources, have all reported on documented “real-life” cases in which pharmacists have been put in the position of either leaving their jobs or compromising their beliefs.

"These attacks on pharmacists are an infringement on their free exercise of religion, and in the long run will serve only to aggravate the already acute shortage of qualified pharmacists by discouraging people of faith from entering the field," said Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin. "People who call themselves 'pro-choice' should especially appreciate the intent of this bill. Pharmacists should have the right to choose not to be complicit in the taking of innocent human life."

The pharmacists conscience clause bill is modeled after a South Dakota law enacted in 1998. Other states with specific and comprehensive pharmacist conscience clause laws include Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Many other states are actively considering this legislation including North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, New York, Arizona and Washington.

The public hearing on SB 155 will be held in Room 201 Southeast of the State Capitol Building in Madison at 11:00 a.m.




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