Catholic chemists refuse to sell pill

A pharmacy in regional NSW is refusing to supply the contraceptive pill to women on religious grounds because the owners "accept the official teachings of the Catholic Church".

The Age reports that after years of dispensing the contraceptive pill, pharmacists Simon and Kathleen Horsfall of Thurgoona, near Albury, now include a flyer in every prescription outlining the reasons why they "conscientiously object to the sale and support of artificial contraception".

If the customer is taking the pill primarily for contraceptive purposes, rather than medical problems such as painful periods or skin problems, the pharmacy asks women to "have your ... prescriptions filled elsewhere".

"We're not trying to force our views on people," Mr Horsfall said. "We've been doing it since we opened 3 1/2 years ago."

Health Minister Tony Abbott last light backed the right of pharmacists to refuse to supply the contraceptive pill. "It's up to them," a spokeswoman said.

His endorsement coincided with the launch of Reproductive Choice Australia, a coalition of pro-choice groups established to combat recent attacks on women's reproductive rights by "socially conservative federal MPs". Mr Horsfall, a father of nine, said he had also counselled women against taking contraceptives.

Liberal MP Sharman Stone said she was concerned about the access of women in rural and regional areas to contraceptive advice.

"Where do they go after that? This is an example of the sorts of difficulties we have in rural and regional Australia for young people who want to act responsibly," Dr Stone said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Julia Gillard said the pharmacists' stance put women under pressure to disclose confidential details. "This would obviously be of grave concern where there is not an alternative pharmacy," she said.

Catholic chemists refuse to sell pill (The Australian 23/6/05)

Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference: Bishops' Committee for Family and Life

Family Planning Council aims to become more relevant (CathNews 13/11/02)
Church 'got it right' on the Pill more than 30 years ago (CathNews 17/8/01)

From the Prof, with love (The Age 23/6/05)

23 Jun 2005