The California Pharmacists Association supports a Temecula druggist who cited moral objections and refused birth control pills for a woman wanting to practice a “morning after” method to prevent pregnancy.
A pharmacist can decline to fill a prescription on “ethical, moral or religious grounds,” said Carlo Michelotti, the interim chief executive officer for the California Pharmacists Association.
But a vice president for Planned Parenthood called the actions of pharmacist John Boling “horrifying” and said no third party has the right to intervene in a decision made between a woman and her doctor.
“It’s scary and disturbing,” said Mary Ellen Hamilton, vice president for public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Riverside and San Diego counties.
“It is a woman’s legal right to make that decision. It is not the business of anyone, including the pharmacist, to counter that decision.”
Planned Parenthood officials said they knew of no other episodes in which a pharmacist refused to provide a “morning after” prescription on moral grounds.
The issue of a pharmacist’s legal responsibilities versus personal beliefs came to light this week when Boling, pharmacy manager of a Longs Drug Store, refused to fill the prescription as a matter of conscience.
The woman who sought the prescription, Michelle Crider, 28, of Temecula, wanted “emergency contraception” after intercourse to keep from becoming pregnant.
Federal authorities have recently approved using some standard contraceptive pills, taken in higher than normal doses, as “morning after” medicine to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Crider, angered at the refusal, contacted the store manager and regional officials with the company, who began an investigation. The prescription was filled at another pharmacy. Boling received a letter of reprimand.
“I’m still very angry,” Crider said. “I can appreciate that he is passionate in his beliefs. I am passionate in mine. Without knowing my situation, he could have affected a huge part of my life. What if there had been no other pharmacy to go to?”
Crider said she had complications in her first pregnancy and did not consider emergency contraception “as a matter of convenience.”
She also considers the prescription different than medication that could induce an abortion.
“I did it to prevent a pregnancy, not terminate one,” she said.