Judge Recommends Pharmacist Be Reprimanded for Withholding Birth Control

A judge has ruled that a pharmacist who refused to fill a woman’s prescription for birth control on religious grounds should be reprimanded. In July 2002, Neil Noesen, a pharmacist at Kmart, refused to fill a University of Wisconsin student’s oral contraceptive prescription, arguing that it would be a sin under his religion, reports Medical News Today. The patient missed a day of her prescription when Noesen, a Roman Catholic, also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy, reports the Capital Times. Noesen testified that he believes birth control to be “intrinsically evil,” and argued that his faith leads him to believe filling such prescriptions would lead to his own personal suffering, according to the Dunn County News.

Administrative Law Judge Colleen Baird, who conducted the hearing on the case in October, issued a strongly worded written decision late last month recommending that Noesen’s license be restricted for at least two years, reports the Capital Times. Baird has also suggested to the state Pharmacy Examining Board that Noesen be ordered to take an ethics class. Baird ruled that Noesen practiced in a manner that departed from the normal standard of care exercised by a pharmacist, and that he violated state regulations prohibiting pharmacists from engaging in practices which could be “a danger to the health, welfare or safety of the patient or public,” reports the Capital Times. “[Noesen] did not even acknowledge that he had caused or could have caused harm to a patient,” Baird said in her decision.

“This decision unequivocally states that it violates the law for pharmacists to put their personal beliefs above their patients’ health care needs,” said Kelda Helen Roys, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. The Pharmacy Examining Board is anticipated to take formal action on the matter in April.

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The Capital Times 3/7/05, The Dunn County News 3/2/05, Medical News Today 3/3/05, NARAL Pro-choice Wisconsin press release 3/3/05

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