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Pharmacists have a duty of care to women who need the morning after pill




It is precisely because pharmacists are well trained, science-based professionals and respected, trusted experts in medicines that one would expect them to base their conscientious objection to dispensing the morning after pill on science rather than opinion. In fact it’s their professional and moral duty to bring to light this body of evidence.


Would they be so kind as to share the “peer-reviewed body of knowledge” that disproves that the mechanism of action of emergency contraception is to stop ovulation? Even if we were to assume that incontrovertible evidence for such a position exists, such that individual pharmacists may exert their “right to conscientiously object” to stocking and/or dispensing the morning after pill, these professionals also have a duty of care to individual persons in need of this medication.


Indeed, many pharmacists do refer such patients to nearby pharmacies that can dispense emergency contraception. However, some pharmacists refuse to do even that. This, however will not help the woman who needs the morning after pill after 12 noon on Sunday. Pharmacies are not open at this time and neither will she find it available at Mater Dei Hospital pharmacy.


So here is our proposal to the Kamra tal-Ispiżjara: ask your members whether they are willing to join a roster whereby there is always at least one pharmacy that dispenses emergency contraception open all day on Sunday. We would be very surprised if no pharmacists are willing to do that. If we are wrong, then Malta’s pharmacy profession is seriously compromised.


Written by Prof Isabel Stabile

Endorsed by the organisation Doctors for Choice