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Amended General Pharmaceutical Council's guidance blatantly ignores the law on freedom of conscience

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Christian Concern's Roger Kiska comments on the General Pharmaceutical Council's (GPhC) amending of guidelines to prevent pharmacists from exercising conscientious objection. 


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), a professional body overseeing pharmacists in the United Kingdom, has amended its guidance to deny pharmacists the right to opt out of providing services which would offend their deeply held religious or moral beliefs. As the Christian Legal Centre stated in its consultation submission to the GPhC on this issue, the reality is that the proposed shift in language would essentially create a monopoly in the pharmacy profession to those who support abortion, contraception, or other morally suspect treatments; thus overriding the grave concerns of Christians, people of other faiths and none, who have a conscientious objection to the provision of certain services and products.

If the pharmaceutical field truly has a duty to provide clients with all options, then it must also have a duty to afford individuals the possibility of accessing pharmacists who share their views on life and health. In a 2009 study, nearly 90 percent of people interviewed from across the ideological spectrum believed that choosing a health care professional with similar values as their own was important. Equally important is that a client's will is not absolute, and even beyond the issue of conscience, delivering services to some patients may not be in their best interests.

The views and morals of the pharmacist matter. The meaning given to him by his sincerely held religious or moral beliefs provides him or her with a truly person-centred approach. And the GPhC, in its zeal to force pharmacists to dispense any drug asked of them, even if it against their will or the best interests of the patient, is a dangerous departure from customary practice which adheres to laws protecting conscience. This is not only a sad day for pharmacists, current and future, but it is a blow to any client who desires to have a pharmacist who truly has their best interests in mind.


Related links: 
Regulator's proposal to remove pharmacists' conscience rights is unethical, uneccesary and quite possibly illegal (CMF blog)