I argue that pharmacist should fill prescriptions even if their own morals do not agree. Pharmacists should not be limiting someone from getting something they may need because they do not agree with it. Pharmacists have no right putting their business (ideology) where it doesn’t belong.
Women struggle enough when going to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for birth control or emergency contraceptive, now with the added possibility of not having a prescription filled. When pharmacists are ready to graduate from school, they join a professional organization with its own code of ethics. Pharmacists have an obligation and owe their customers a duty of care. “Society relies on pharmacists to instruct patients on the appropriate use of medications and to ensure safety…”
It is important for pharmacists to remember that they willingly enter their field and adopt its corresponding obligations to care for the needs of their customers. Good pharmacists will know the value of the patient and provider relationship and value it. The importance of this relationship lies within trust. It seems extreme that some states have had to mandate that emergency contraception be given to rape survivors due to pharmacist resistance. A heavy burden may also be placed on teenagers in addition to adults who live in a rural area with only one pharmacy. Something such as the morning after pill is most effective when used within a certain amount of time.
A pharmacist who refuses to prescribe prescriptions, which tie to HIV, is being immoral and unethical. It would be uneducated for a pharmacist to assume where and how this person contracted HIV. A pharmacist is not a doctor and should not determine who should be talking what medicine; they went to school to prescribe and inform customers of the risks and hazards of the medication.
Just as some doctors who do not always do what is right by the patient, the same goes for pharmacists. However when there is a conflict of morals and opinions pharmacist should arrange for someone else to provide the service that the customer needs, promptly. This is just another reason why physicians need to fill in the gaps with emergency departments. Emergency contraception should be made available to all patients. The refusal of pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception has dated back to 1991 and show no sign of abating. We are in the year of 2015, and the issue has been around since 1991 shows there is not enough support on some level whether it is governmental, federal or state to help this matter. This signifies a great problem.
When pharmacists enter their field, they agree to uphold respect and dignity for each patient. Pharmacists are also to serve individual, community and societal needs. When a pharmacist does not fill prescriptions or satisfy the needs that the customer requests, they are not upholding the autonomy of each customer. A pharmacist does not serve the community needs if a customer longs for a morning after pill (or the alike) and does not receive one. This child will be born and may need to be supported by tax dollars and community funds. This additional burden could have been avoided if the pharmacist upheld the autonomy of the customer and fulfilled the duty of care needed.
Autonomy of any individual is important and holding health care professionals to a standard is to be expected when in the health care field. Patients and customers deserve to be treated with respect and most fundamentally as humans.
Danielle Paciulli is a graduate student.