Kansas Legislature Expands Dangerous Refusal Clause
Yesterday Kansas’ state legislature approved a measure to expand subjective conscience clauses for pharmacists; giving them the ability to refuse filling prescriptions for medications they believe might terminate a pregnancy. The extreme measure passed in the House in March, and the Senate approved the measure Wednesday, 23-16.
Opponents of the bill are rightly concerned for a number of reasons, believing the bill’s final passage will open the floodgates to allow medical and health professionals the ability to provide services on a subjective basis. The measure could easily impact the legality, access and dispensing of basic birth control and RU-486. Anti-choice supporters of the bill refuse to acknowledge the biased, political agenda furthered by the measure, arguing the provisions simply protect health providers from forced participation in abortion services.
The justification behind the blatant anti-choice effort is flawed to say the least. Patients receive prescriptions from license physicians with ample knowledge of the appropriate and inappropriate medications for pregnant women. Yet, this bill exists under the assumption that a doctor’s prescription may jeopardize a pregnancy, and a pharmacist is better equipped to determine whether or not an individual can safely take said medication.
The bill also raises the question, “How does the pharmacist know the individual is pregnant?” Either the pharmacist must have access to private medical information, or receives the legal allowance to make medical assumptions based on appearance.
In instances of refusal, pharmacists would not be required to make referrals, possibly leaving women in rural areas without access to fill their prescriptions. As Republican state Senator Tim Owens (R-KS) explained, “This bill carries with it opportunities for unintended consequences where a person with medical skills and training could be in a situation to deny help resulting in the death of a mother…I do not accept that as a pro-life choice.”