Following the release of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report recommending that birth control be made available without co-pays because of its alleged importance for women’s preventive health care, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced the Access to Birth Control Act (ABC) to prevent pharmacies from refusing to sell contraceptives based on conscientious objections due to an employee’s religious beliefs. It will require pharmacies to fill a valid prescription for contraceptives in a timely manner, and to provide what is characterized as “over-the-counter emergency contraception.” A news release by Rep. Maloney states that ABC “will stop pharmacists from infringing on the rights of individuals in this country by making pharmacy refusals illegal.”

The House version of the bill, H.R. 2259, currently has 14 cosponsors. The Senate version, S. 1415, currently has 12 cosponsors. Both were introduced July 26, 2010. This attack on the right to conscientious objection in the context of pharmacies, if successful, is but a preview of the attacks to come on the rights of conscience for all medical professionals. The bill can be read in full at the Library of Congress web site.

Action Item: Urge your Member of Congress and Senators to oppose the Access to Birth Control Act. You can contact your leaders through the Family Research Council’s online action page.

Reminder: LLDF’s seminar “Do No Harm,” which specifically addresses the legal implications of forcing pharmacists with conscientious objections to dispensing drugs harmful to human life will take place next month. Although this seminar focuses on the specific context of the pharmacy, the concepts discussed are analogous and transferable to other medical disciplines. The first presentation of this groundbreaking seminar on health care workers’ rights to conscientiously object to participating in specific medical practices will be presented on September 17, 2011. For details please visit LLDF’s website.

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