Another woman has been denied the morning after pill by a pharmacist who said he was exercising his religious conscience.
The latest incident happened at Lloyds Pharmacy in Slathwaite, West Yorkshire. Customers were stunned when a row erupted in the shop after a young woman handed over a prescription for emergency contraception. She was told by the pharmacist that he would not serve her because it was against his religion.
One woman customer in the packed shop who witnessed the incident said: “I was just horrified. The woman clearly needed the pill and her doctor felt she needed it too. Who is a pharmacist to give his judgement over what has been discussed between a doctor and his patient? It is absolutely disgraceful. I will never use that chemist’s again.”
After a heated discussion with the chemist in front of customers the woman was eventually taken into a side cubicle and told where else she could go to get the pill.
The chemist – who refused to give his name when confronted by a reporter from the local paper, said: “The Royal Pharmaceutical Society gives us grounds not to supply on ethical or religious grounds. I was not willing to give it to her because of my religious beliefs. But my job is to signpost her to the nearest chemist who would give it and that is what I did.”
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which governs the professional conduct of chemists, said the man was within his rights by refusing the drug on religious grounds. Its code of ethics on emergency hormonal contraception states: “Before accepting employment pharmacists must disclose any factors which may affect their ability to provide services. Where a pharmacist’s religious beliefs or personal convictions prevent them from providing a service they must not condemn or criticise the patient and they or a member of staff must advise the patient of alternative sources for the service requested.”
A spokesman for Kirklees Primary Care Trust, which manages contracts for pharmacists, said under the code there was nothing they could do about it. Similarly Lloyds Pharmacy can do nothing to prevent such incidents. “On the rare occasions the situation arises we instruct our staff to do everything they can to resolve the matter, for example by referring the customer back to their GP or to an alternative supplier of the product,” a spokesman said.
This is a different message from the one on their website; “Lloydspharmacy recognises the wider determinants of health and the impact that social and environmental factors have on people’s health. A community pharmacy should do more than simply dispense medicines. A strong emphasis should be placed on helping people maintain their own health and wellbeing.”
I felt I had to leave the comment ; Yet another example of religious interference in the daily lives of ordinary people. I could understand if the guy let someone else serve her but to turn her away is shocking. I think Lloyds need to re-evaluate their priorities; The CUSTOMER is always right!
I decided to request some information from Lloyds, but I don’t think I’ll get a response.
Following the news story of another woman denied the morning after pill by one of your stores due to the religious beliefs of the pharmacist, I was wondering if you could supply some statistical information on the theistic make up of your employees, the number of pharmacys run by theists (and therefore run the potential of not supplying vital products on religious grounds) and perhaps the number of incidents recorded over the past few years where a product has not been supplied due to religious beliefs.