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Nevada board
considers allowing pharmacists to deny filling prescriptions

Nevada board
considers allowing pharmacists to deny filling prescriptions

The Nevada Board of Pharmacy on Thursday began hearings on a controversial proposal that would permit pharmacists in the state to refuse to fill a prescription that violated their moral or religious beliefs. Under the proposed regulation, pharmacists could refuse a prescription if they notify their employer in writing in advance, arrange "without delay" for another pharmacist to fill the prescription, and decline to discuss the reason for refusing the prescription. An attempt earlier this year in the legislature to pass the regulation was defeated.

Supporters say pharmacists should not be compelled to dispense drugs that conflict with their moral beliefs. "Nobody tells a physician he has to perform an abortion," said Louis Ling, board general counsel. "No other health care professional is forced to do something over her beliefs."

But opponents say pharmacists should not be able to deny patients medicines that are prescribed by their doctors. They question how patients in isolated rural towns with only one pharmacy would be protected if the measure passed. Pat Elzy, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Reno, said her group wants assurances that patients will not have to travel to another town to get medicine.

Lisa Lynn Chapman, 37, opposes the regulation. When she was 18 a Las Vegas pharmacist refused to fill the birth-control prescription Chapman needed for a health problem that resulted in a hysterectomy. "It would be very easy for somebody to make a moral assertion about AIDS drugs and, using that same moral assertion, to discriminate against somebody because they needed AIDS drugs," said Chapman.

Eleven states are considering bills that would protect pharmacists who refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions. Four states currently have such laws in place. (AP)

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