Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 183 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 1-Jul-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 2-Jul-2004
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Prevention magazine special report: What you need to know about the new birth control ban

"Access Denied," a special report in the August issue of Prevention magazine, examines a medical practice that was virtually unheard of until recently: An increasing number of doctors and pharmacists across the country are refusing to prescribe or dispense the birth control pill to women. In fact, legislation has passed in 3 states, and put forward in 11 more, that would allow a doctor or pharmacist to refuse to prescribe or dispense medications based on their moral and ethical stance. "This is a women's health issue, not just a birth control issue," says Rosemary Ellis, editorial director of Prevention. "Passage of such bills could dramatically impact the estimated 12 million women who use hormonal contraceptives, many of them for a variety of medical conditions beyond birth control, including reducing ovarian cancer risk, shrinking fibroids, controlling endometriosis, and managing menstrual cramps." The August issue is on newsstands July 6.

Prevention completed a three-month investigation into both sides of this complex debate--the women who want the Pill and the doctors who support their right to it for health and birth control vs. the doctors and pharmacists who maintain their right to prescribe and dispense medicines based on their beliefs.

According to the article:

"At the heart of the debate between anti-Pill forces and mainstream medicine lies a profound difference of opinion about when pregnancy and life begin. The long-standing medical definition of pregnancy, held by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is that it starts not when an egg is fertilized, but when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining…but anti-Pill doctors and pharmacists say life begins sooner, at fertilization. Sloughing off a fertilized egg, in their view, is a 'chemical abortion.' "

"Our job is to enhance life," explains Pharmacists for Life International President, pharmacist Karen Brauer, RPh, who first refused to fill prescriptions for some types of birth control pills in 1989. "We shouldn't have to dispense a medication that we think takes lives."

"Most women's doctor's agree that contraceptives are an important tool of good medical care. 'I have a hard time with people who market themselves as women's health care physicians but won't prescribe such a basic part of women's health care,' says Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, a reproductive rights ethicist at Duke University Medical Center. 'We're seeing a growing trend among pharmacists and medical practitioners who consider it acceptable to impose their morality on women's bodies. I don't think moral aspects should be a concern. Imagine a pharmacist asking a customer whether his Viagra is to enhance sexual performance in his marriage or in an extramarital affair. Never!' "

The article can be found in its entirety at:,,s1-7342,00.html.

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