WI: Pharmacist Faces Hearing After Refusing to Fill Birth Control Prescription

Neil Noesen, a pharmacist in Wisconsin, faced a disciplinary hearing earlier this week for refusing to fill or transfer Amanda Phiede’s prescription for birth control pills in July, 2002. Noesen is accused of unprofessional conduct by the state’s Department of Regulation and Licensing. Noesen was filling in at a Kmart pharmacy when Phiede attempted to pick up her birth control pills. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reports that Noesen, a devout Roman Catholic, asked Phiede if the pills were to be used as contraception. When she said yes, Noesen refused to fill the prescription, citing his belief that doing so would be a sin. Phiede then attempted to obtain her birth control from a nearby Wal-Mart pharmacy. According to Kaisernetwork.org, Noesen refused to transfer the prescription to the Wal-Mart pharmacist, repeating that artificial contraception is against his religious beliefs. A spokesperson for the Department of Regulation and Licensing said last March that while pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions, they are required to transfer the prescription to a pharmacy where it can be filled. The Department has also said that Noesen had the duty as a licensed pharmacist to inform Phiede that she could obtain the pills from an emergency room. The Associated Press quoted John Zweig, the Department’s attorney, as saying, “The additional risk of pregnancy should not have been imposed on her by someone else.” Closing statements will be filed by lawyers for both parties in mid-November, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, at which point Judge Colleen Baird will recommend sanctions to the state’s Pharmacy Examining Board. According to the National Women’s Law Center, three statesÑArkansas, Mississippi, and South DakotaÑhave passed laws granting pharmacists the right to refuse to fill prescriptions if they have a religious objection. TAKE ACTION Urge the FDA to stop playing politics with women’s lives


National WomenÕs Law Center 10/13/04; Milwaukee Journal Sentinal 10/12/04; Associated Press 10/12/04, 10/13/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 10/13/04, 3/18/04

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