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Conscientious Objection and the Morning‐After Pill

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Abstract:

<sc>abstract</sc>

The so‐called ‘morning‐after pill’ is a drug that prevents pregnancy if taken no later than 72 hours after presumably fertile sexual intercourse. This article argues against a right of conscientious objection for pharmacists with regard to dispensing this drug. Some arguments that might be advanced in support of this right will be considered and rejected. Section 2 argues that from a philosophical point of view, the most relevant question is not whether the morning‐after pill prevents implantation nor is it whether preventing implantation is tantamount to abortion. Section 3 suggests a more general philosophical question as most pertinent, namely whether and to what extent a pharmacist can justifiably be exempted from dispensing the morning‐after pill when to do so would entail participating in something that goes against his or her deepest moral or religious convictions. Section 4 explains why, within liberal institutions, pharmacists should not have the right to conscientious objection to dispensing the morning‐after pill.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5930.2012.00559.x

Affiliations: Department of Law ‘Cesare Beccaria’, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy.

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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