Profession Of Pharmacy Under Siege by Dr. Kurt Grady
There is a battle raging in the state of Illinois regarding the dispensing of medicines designed to induce abortions. Many pharmacists object to filling these prescriptions on moral and ethical grounds. Many see this as an infringement upon the doctor - patient relationship. However, Dr. Kurt Grady of the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International offers an alternative view. His article first appeared in the Official Journal of Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International in the fall of 2005.
He is one of the few that have spoken out in defense of pharmacists, and some in the pro-life movement consider this too hot to handle. However, I interviewed Dr. Grady regarding this issue and have included his thoughts in this article. Now, Dr. Grady: "We are indeed all familiar with the battle that has been raging in our profession regarding pharmacists refusing to dispense drugs for abortion.
Recently, our brethren at the American Medical Association (AMA) have joined in the fray by approving a new policy to encourage States to allow physicians to dispense medications when there is no pharmacist nearby (within a 30-mile radius) willing to do so. The AMA asserts large numbers of pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives and abortifacients. Some pharmacists, according to AMA delegates, are also refusing to dispense psychotropic and pain medications. In addition, the policy-making body alleges pharmacists are refusing to return unfilled prescriptions to patients, thus preventing them from taking the prescriptions elsewhere, and they are "lecturing" patients about the drugs. While these accusations may sound extreme, I have no doubt there is at least a "grain" of truth therein. While I do not believe we have a right to confiscate legally written prescriptions, I do believe we have an obligation to counsel patients regarding the medications they are or are about to take. This is our professional duty and it is imputed upon us, so to speak, through our taking of the pharmacist's oath. As it may have been a few years since we studied the oath, I have included it below and have specifically related it to the issue of dispensing abortifacients further below. Oath of a Pharmacist: “At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy. I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.
I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve. I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy. I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care. I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.” The recent issues addressed by the AMA, particularly those related to our refusal to fill prescriptions specifically designed to end a human life, go to the very heart of the pro-life moral position. As Christians, we view the beginning of life as the moment of conception. It is that miracle moment, which science cannot completely describe, where God fashions a human soul with a divine purpose. Jeremiah 1:5 illustrates the beauty of God's authorship of mankind as God speaks of His Sovereign purposes. Luke 1:41-44 shows that the purposes of God begin prior to birth as John's first act as the forerunner of Jesus was to leap in his mother's womb when the as-yet unborn Lord approached. God indeed has a purpose for all from even before the time of conception.
Thus, we look at our oath in perhaps a different light than others. Our view is a biblical worldview. Consider our oath sentence by sentence: 1. "At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy." All humankind includes those who are not yet born because life begins at conception. As a pharmacist I must consider an unborn baby as a patient. 2. "I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns." Ending a human life does not consider his/her welfare and actually increases human suffering as many who have undergone abortions suffer physically and emotionally for years. (See Johnson T.
Christianity and Pharmacy 2005;8 (l):21-22). Additionally, there is blessing in suffering, though that is yet another topic.see Romans 8:28-39. 3. "I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve." Ending his/her life is not and "optimal drug therapy outcome" for my patient. 4. "I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy." Not all developments in medicine or pharmacy are positive according to a biblical worldview.
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