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My concerns with changes to the conscience clause

I read with interest about the proposed change to the conscience clause for pharmacists (The Pharmaceutical Journal online, 22 December 2016). This concerns me.

I have been a Christian for 59 years and a pharmacist for 36 years. One of the reasons I chose pharmacy was that, unlike medicine, there was no pressure to compromise my own values and beliefs.

When various new services were introduced, such as the availability of contraception on the NHS, the legalisation of abortion in Britain, etc, there were built-in safeguards for those of us who joined the profession to opt out of providing certain services that goes against our beliefs.

Now the powers that be seem intent on taking away our freedom of conscience. There is already a great deal of pressure on me and like-minded people to cave in to providing emergency hormonal contraception and other services that I deem unethical. And in the future, if the conscience clause no longer exists, would I be pressured to provide services such as assisted dying?

Andrew Paxton


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202195

Readers' comments (1)

  • If I understand the wording of the proposed new "conscience clause" correctly, it still does not compel, for example, provision of emergency hormonal contraception by those who find it unacceptable to do so because of their religious beliefs. But it does expect such individuals to acknowledge that there will be times when the majority of practitioners and indeed the regulators believe that the patient/client's interests will be best served by the provision of the service in question. The pharmacist who is unwilling by reason of conscience to provide the service, or indeed a member of support staff, simply has to "signpost" the patient in good faith to someone who is able to provide the service in a timely manner. A pharmacy is not the right place to be judgmental about such matters. Similarly, it is to be presumed that prescriptions for emergency hormonal contraception or indeed the contraceptive "pill" will not be turned away by those pharmacists who believe that contraception is wrong?

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