Wis. lawmakers debate conscience clause

March 7, 2005 at 7:00 PM

MILWAUKEE, March 7 (UPI) -- Wisconsin legislators are considering whether to give pharmacists the same right to refuse to perform certain services other medical professionals have.

A law dating back to the 1970s, gives physicians, hospitals and hospital employees the right to refuse to perform abortions, sterilization and other procedures to which they may have a personal moral or religious objection. Now some lawmakers want to extend that right to pharmacists. Opponents counter that pharmacists have no place in the doctor-patient relationship.

The debate arose after a Menomonie, Wis., pharmacist refused to fill a birth control prescription for a University of Wisconsin coed and would not transfer her prescription to another provider. He now faces a possible reprimand and limitations on his license, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Karen Brauer, of Pharmacists for Life International, said incidents such as these are likely to spur more states to adopt conscience clauses.

However, Chris Taylor, political director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said most people in the state don't believe in restricting women's rights to obtain contraceptives.

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