In 2002, a University of Wisconsin student brought a prescription for Loestrin to pharmacist Neil Noesen, who was working in a local community pharmacy in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Noesen refused to fill the prescription, citing his "conscientious objection to participation in refilling a contraceptive order." He failed to ask the student whether she had any medical conditions that might make pregnancy dangerous. He also refused to inform her of any other local pharmacies that were capable of filling the prescription. When the student, on her own, located another pharmacy, Noesen refused to transfer the prescription, claiming that doing so would "induce another to do a morally wrong or sinful act pursuant to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church." As a result, the student was unable to take her medication as prescribed and risked pregnancy.
Pharmacists in a number of other states-including California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington-have also refused to fill similar prescriptions. Some pharmacists will only dispense birth control pills to married women; others refuse to provide the pills to anyone, mistakenly believing emergency contraception to be an abortafacient; still others, like Noesen, "hold prescriptions hostage" so that women are unable to take the prescriptions to other pharmacies.
Martha S. Swartz,
"Conscience Clauses" or "Unconscionable Clauses": Personal Beliefs Versus Professional Responsibilities,
Yale J. Health Pol'y L. & Ethics
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjhple/vol6/iss2/2