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Wisconsin Court Upholds Penalties for Pharmacist Who Refused to Provide Referral for Contraceptives

A Wisconsin District Court of Appeals upheld the state Pharmacy Examining Board’s decision against a pharmacist who refused to refill a patient’s prescription for oral contraceptives or to provide a referral. According to the Daily Women’s Health Report, pharmacist Neil Noesen refused to refill a woman’s prescription for oral contraceptives for so-called moral reasons, which is allowed under Wisconsin law. However, the court ruled that he did not have the right to refuse to refer the woman to a pharmacist who would fill her prescription. Kiani was still stoned to death on July 5, 2007. Ebrahimi’s death was stayed due to the public outcry, and last week the Iranian judiciary amnesty commission released her from prison.

The Associated Press reports that the court upheld the Pharmacy Examining Board’s ruling that Noesen has a professional responsibility to see that a patient’s prescription is filled even if he chooses not fill it himself. In Wisconsin, health care workers may refuse to provide certain treatments on moral grounds, but pharmacists may not.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the judge found that refusing to provide a patient with at least a referral constitutes “a danger to the health, welfare, or safety of a patient and was practiced in a manner which substantially departs from the standard of care ordinarily exercised by a pharmacist and which harmed or could have harmed a patient.”

Planned Parenthood told the that this case is one of the first in the country to rule on the issue of refusing to fill a prescription.

Sources:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 03/25/08; Associated Press 03/25/08; Daily Women's Health Policy Report 03/26/08