Respond: New Standards Attempt to Force Pharmacists to Dispense Abortion Inducing Drugs
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) have released a public “Consultation on religion, personal values and beliefs” in which they propose significant changes regarding the ability of a pharmacist to refuse certain services.
The consultation can be found in full here and our response on the right hand side of this page after each question in bold.
Up until now, if a pharmacist were unable dispense certain services, due to their beliefs about the immorality of that service, then they were permitted to refuse to do so provided that they referred the customer to somewhere else which would provide that service.
However, due to the influence of the Secular Medical Forum (SMF) – a branch of the National Secular Society – the GPhC are considering changing the standard to be far more restrictive and intolerant of individual pharmacists.
The GPhC proposes a significant change in emphasis which can be seen most clearly in the following. Previous guidelines talked of the pharmacist's requirement to
"tell relevant health professionals, employers or others if their own values or beliefs prevent them from providing care, and refer people to other providers" (original)
The new guidelines require pharmacists to
"take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs."(proposed change)
In short, the proposed changes mean that a pharmacist would have to provide abortion inducing drugs against their conscience, or would have to employ someone else who would provide it (an unaffordable cost for many), or could face losing his/her job.
In practice, this means a pharmacist could lose his/her job for refusing to dispense drugs which induce abortion. The proposed changes are not limited to abortion inducing drugs but also include: contraception; fertility medicines; hormonal therapies; mental health and wellbeing services; substance misuse services; and sexual health services.
No medical professional should be forced to dispense drugs intended to end the life of a child in the womb (aside from the fact that no medical professional should be doing this in the first place.)
These proposals are intolerant and entirely unnecessary. Pregnancy is not a disease in need of medical treatment. A woman’s desire not to be pregnant, while often understandable, is a preference and a good medical professional does not simply agree to whatever preference a customer happens to have. S/he will assess the medical need for intervention.
As mentioned the GPhC is open for public consultation on this matter and we’ve written a response highlighting the oppressive nature of this change and the discriminatory effect it will have on pharmacists who recognise that abortifacient drugs do not belong in healthcare.
This will disproportionately affect pharmacists of a religious persuasion, particularly Christians, and we must do all we can to stop it now.
NB. The consultation ends on the 7th March so make sure you reply now!
Please sign our response to the GPhC's consultation.
This petition is...
Response: Consultation on religion, personal values and beliefs in pharmacy practice