Bill would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense abortion meds

March 6, 2015

A New Mexico state legislative committee has added a provision to an antiabortion measure that would allow pharmacists the right to not dispense abortion medication based on personal and religious beliefs.

A New Mexico state legislative committee has added a provision to an antiabortion measure that would allow pharmacists the right to not dispense abortion medication based on personal and religious beliefs.

The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. It was recently  passed by New Mexico’s House Judiciary Committee, but has not yet been voted upon by the entire state legislature. It is sponsored by state Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican from Otero.

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"There's lots of reasons our organization opposes this bill," Steve Allen, a lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, reportedly told legislators. “But one aspect particularly troubling is the expanded religious exemption."

Current New Mexico law permits hospitals to refuse to perform abortions based on religious exemptions. However, this recently proposed late term abortion ban stipulates that "any pharmacist or any person under direction of a pharmacist" can refuse to dispense medicine that results in "the termination of a pregnancy." 

“New Mexico is known as the late-term abortion capitol of the nation. … It’s an opportunity to speak for the unborn,” Rep. Herrell said.

 

State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said the pharmacist provision included in the bill goes too far. "I think this bill does much more than raise the issues addressed by its supporters. The extent and reach of this is vastly broader than I have heard anyone discuss it at all," he said.

Egolf contends that the provision would allow a pharmacist to not dispense the morning-after pill to a woman on the first day of her pregnancy.

Dale Tinker, executive director of the New Mexico Pharmacists Association, said pharmacists already have the legal discretion to not dispense medications.  “[Our organization] encourages pharmacists to use professional judgment regarding decisions to not fill medications based on appropriate and quality health care,” Tinker said. “Our position is that pharmacists must be allowed to make their own professional judgment call regarding proper dispensing of prescription medications.”

See also:

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