Pharmacists and the morning after pill - who has the right to refuse the birth of a child?

Author:Graham, Charlotte A.
 
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Charlotte A. Graham, Pharmacists and the Morning After Pill--Who Has the Right to Refuse the Birth of a Child? 28 J. JUV. L. 100 (2007).

Early abortions require removing an already implanted embryo from the uterus, either through the use of medication or medical instruments. Medication abortions may reduce pregnancy by 92-96%. "Emergency contraception" inhibits the embryo from implanting into the uterus. Emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B, require a woman to take two pills, twelve hours apart, to prevent implantation. Plan B is estimated to reduce implantation by 89% and if used within 24 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse, may reduce the risk of implantation by 95%.

On August 24, 2006, the FDA approved the nonprescription sale of Plan B to women and men over 18. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which has advocated for national non-prescription access to Plan B, stated that it is necessary to allow for non-prescription access because the time is of the essence (a woman only has 72 hours in which to take emergency contraceptives after intercourse), and some women may not be able to wait for the necessary doctor's appointment in states that do not allow pharmacists to prescribe Plan B.

Currently nine states allow a pharmacist to dispense emergency contraception without a prescription provided that the pharmacist has completed the requisite training required by that state. In most state administrative codes, an ethics subsection is contained within the State Board of Pharmacy Codes and Regulations. In some codes, it is not considered unprofessional for a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription based on his or her moral or religious beliefs. This may be referred to as a conscientious objector statute. Other states have enacted conscientious objector statutes in response to the FDA's statement that Plan B may be dispensed over the counter.

Are women being denied their fundamental rights when their access to emergency contraceptives is restricted? In Griswold v. Connecticut the United States Supreme Court recognized a "zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees." Inherent in this zone of privacy was the right of married persons to use...

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