A Walgreen's pharmacist in Nampa, Idaho refused to fill a prescription for a drug to stop uterine bleeding unless the nurse practitioner revealed whether the patient had had an abortion. Clearly, if she had, she deserved to bleed to death!
Here's what happened:
Planned Parenthood officials said the complaint states that the pharmacist inquired if the patient needed the drug for post-abortion care. The nurse refused to answer the question based on confidentiality of health information.
According to Planned Parenthood, the pharmacist then stated that if the nurse practitioner did not disclose that information, she would not fill the prescription. The nurse alleged that the pharmacist hung up when asked for a referral to another pharmacy that would fill the prescription.
As Robin Marty pointed out, not only would answering the inappropriate question put the nurse practitioner at legal risk of violating patient confidentiality laws, this case is different from providers exercising their "conscience" by refusing to dispense the morning-after pill or other hormonal birth control. "Refusing a drug that stops bleeding?" she writes. "The abortion has already happened. The 'murder' has already taken place. And by not allowing the patient to have medicine to control her bleeding afterward, and refusing to transfer the prescription so it could be filled in a timely manner, that pharmacist was not only not 'saving a life' but could have caused the death of a woman in the process." Pro-life indeed.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest filed a complaint with the Idaho Board of Pharmacy, and also got Walgreen's corporate to take "corrective action," whatever that means. The problem is that Idaho's version of the Conscience Provider law, effective since last July, is particularly broad — it has been criticized for having not requiring a physician referral. It does include this:
If a health care professional invokes a conscience right in a life-threatening situation where no other health care professional capable of treating the emergency is available, such health care professional shall provide treatment and care until an alternate health care professional capable of treating the emergency is found.
Of course, this was not the only pharmacist in the Boise area. But surely there's a state board provision against being a total asshole when asked for a referral.
Planned Parenthood Files Complaint Against Nampa Pharmacist [Idaho Press Tribune]
When Conscious Clauses Can Kill [Care2]