Vatican tells Italian chemists not to sell 'morning after' pill
Conflict has broken out in Italy between the Church and the government over the sale of the so-called day-after contraceptive pill which prevents conception.
The pill, which has just gone on sale, is listed by the Health Ministry as a 'method of emergency contraception'. But the Vatican describes it as a form of abortion.
It says chemists who are Catholics should declare themselves conscientious objectors and refuse to sell the pill.
Italy's health minister called the Vatican's attitude puzzling, saying mechanical and chemical contraceptive devices, which function just like the day-after pill, have been on sale in Italy for years.
By law, pharmacists in Italy must provide customers with all government-approved medicines.
But Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Bishops Conference, insisted that because the pill was abortive, pharmacists should be allowed to take advantage of a clause in Italy's abortion law that allows doctors and nurses to declare themselves conscientious objectors.