The Role of Conscience in a Pharmacist's Life

Judie Brown
17 June 2008
Reproduced with Permission

I recall reading a very profound statement written by Pope John Paul II in his remarkable encyclical Veritatis Splendor. He said,

Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known. As Cardinal John Henry Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience forcefully put it: ‘Conscience has rights because it has duties.'

How true this is, particularly in view of the current harangue spewing forth from the American Medical Association and its partner in crime, the Washington Post.

Let me start by saying I have wondered for years about the moral compass that guides the actions and various policy statements of the AMA. The current attempt to force pharmacists to submit to the whims of the cultural icons identified with sexual license is driving me to believe that the AMA is nothing more than a shill for the devil himself. Why else would the AMA Board of Trustees even consider approving a statement like this one:

A pharmacist's deliberate refusal to dispense a drug on religious, moral, or ethical grounds, i.e., pharmacist conscientious objection, has been most often associated with Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, and has received considerable attention in both the lay media and in medical journal commentaries. Of all of the reasons why a pharmacist might not dispense a legally valid prescription, conscientious objection is the only one that places a pharmacist's personal views in potential conflict with the best interests of the patient.

This statement is poppycock and I will tell you why. First of all, this statement rejects the undeniable fact that the morning after pill and all chemical birth control pills can, and do, abort embryonic children. Therefore, the use of such chemicals, which are nothing more than recreational drugs, is morally abhorrent and could never be equated with anything legal or valid when one considers it in light of the natural law.

Second, and perhaps more important, is the erroneous nature of the suggestion that ingesting such chemicals is in the best interest of the patient. How could a chemical that is not being used to treat an illness ever be in the best interest of the patient? What sort of condition renders said patient in need of a birth control pill if not nothing more or less than a desire not to bear a child? Is that a medical condition or a state of mind? And, if it is a state of mind, why would anyone prescribe an artificial hormone for it?

I think you get my point. The only reason the AMA would ever consider putting pharmacists in the impossible position of ignoring natural law and pretending conscience did not dictate adherence to basic truth would be to serve the self-centered needs of America's sexually saturated culture.

Furthermore, the pro-life drugstores that have been springing up around the country are gaining popularity and a client base. These drugstores are not unlike any other major chains other than the fact that they will not carry drugs that can kill babies. What a concept!

But the Washington Post is hot on their trail and the underlying message from the Post is that there is something inherently wrong when a drugstore refuses to carry products that some women view as a must-have part of their social-planning calendar.

The Post reports, "critics say the stores could create dangerous obstacles for women seeking legal, safe and widely used birth control methods."

Now let me see. What could the danger be if not the possibility of procreating a baby? The obstacles to which they refer must be the possibility that a man and a woman might have to refrain from sexual relations because they are neither married nor ready to have a family! The woman who is "seeking legal, safe and widely-used birth control methods" is, in the majority of cases, a woman who is on a mission that has little to do with saving her own soul or surrendering her ability to procreate to God so that His will is her greatest desire.

Now don't me wrong. I realize that many married women honestly believe there is nothing wrong with the birth control pill. That is a sad reality of our time, but it is not one that should become the governing force behind a drive to rob ethical pro-life pharmacists of their right to serve God and conscience first and always.

It is no accident that the drive by the AMA's Board of Trustees and the current spate of national news about the audacity of pro-life pharmacists expressing their moral concerns are occurring simultaneously. It is no surprise that, if not for the heroic efforts of Pharmacists for Life International, there would be no headlines today or AMA proposal in the first place.

The leadership of PFLI, an American Life League associate group, is to be commended for they, under the watchful eye of founder Bo Kuhar, have worked tirelessly to help pharmacists find their moral compass, exercise their freedom to be free of deadly chemicals and devices in their practice and to be courageous enough to tell the world why contraceptives are wrong. After all, as PFLI President Karen Brauer told the Washington Post when speaking about the reasons why pro-life pharmacies exist,

This allows a pharmacist who does not wish to be involved in stopping a human life in any way to practice in a way that feels comfortable.

In conclusion - which it sadly is not as I firmly believe that the medical establishment will continue to pressure pro-life pharmacists for years to come - I would like to remind you of what Pope Benedict XVI had to say on this most urgent matter of conscience:

It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone's life... I invite your federation [of pharmacists] to consider conscientious objection which is a right that must be recognized for your profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply of products which have clearly immoral aims, for example abortion or euthanasia...

The Holy Father said those words to Catholic pharmacists in October of last year. Isn't it a shame the AMA wasn't listening!