The Nevada Board of Pharmacy is considering a proposal that would allow Nevada pharmacists to not fill a prescription because it violates their moral or religious beliefs. Approval of the measure will make Nevada the fifth state to pass such a proposal following Arkansas, Georgia, South Dakota and Mississippi.
If passed, pharmacists can refuse a prescription if they do two things:
Arrange "without delay" for another pharmacist to fill the prescription;
remain silent on the reason for refusing the prescription.
The board should call off the hearing. It is not the place for it. In our eyes, it's another instance of government dabbling in things not meant for it.
The place to legislate the morals of society is not behind the pharmacy counter. It is in the home, the church and finally at the Legislature.
The attempt to include a refusal clause in Nevada law was defeated in the 2005 Legislature.
Pharmacists with strong religious or moral beliefs should lobby the Legislature to effect a change in law - not refuse to fill a prescription given out by a doctor.
Who is to say that someone won't decide that filling a prescription for drugs that slow the symptoms of AIDS are unconscionable, that Viagra should not be dispensed to unmarried men, or that Aunt Betty's arthritis pills don't offend?
If beliefs are so strong as to prohibit a pharmacist from dispensing a medication then it could be argued the pharmacist should consider a career change. In today's world, it would be more troublesome to think pharmacists made it through school without learning of these drugs, and therefore learning they may one day be called on to fill a prescription for them.
Those with firm beliefs who would prohibit prescribing emergency contraception or birth control pills should also hold the firm belief that we are free to make our own decisions, our own mistakes.
Those beliefs also render Thursday's hearing unnecessary.