Pro-life pharmacies opening around the U.S.

Chantilly, Va., Jun 17, 2008 / 06:10 am (CNA).- A pro-life pharmacy which will not stock contraceptives will open this August in Chantilly, Virginia, is joining several pharmacies around the country that accommodate workers with objections to distributing contraceptives.

The DMC Pharmacy, located in a shopping plaza near a major thoroughfare, aims to support pharmacists and other health-care workers whose consciences do not allow them to distribute such products, the Washington Post reports. The DMC Pharmacy is an expansion of Divine Mercy Care in Fairfax, Virginia, a nonprofit healthcare organization that adheres to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

"We're trying not to leave our faith at the door," said John Bruchalski, who chairs the group's board of directors. "We're trying to create an environment where belief and professionalism come together."

Bruchalski said that one of the organization's major goals is helping needy, uninsured patients obtain health care. The group also runs the Tepeyac Family Center, an obstetrics-gynecology practice that offers natural family planning instead of contraceptives, sterilization, or abortion.

Other pro-life pharmacies are in operation around the United States.

"We try to practice pharmacy in a way that we feel is best to help our community and promote healthy lifestyles," said Lloyd Duplantis, who owns Lloyd's Remedies in Gray, Louisiana, and is a deacon in his Catholic church. "After researching the science behind steroidal contraceptives, I decided they could hurt the woman and possibly hurt her unborn child. I decided to opt out."

Conscientious objection by pharmacists has become a flashpoint for the debate surrounding freedom of conscience and reproductive health.

Objecting pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control pills, morning-after pills and other forms of contraception, saying that they believe such methods can cause an abortion. Also cited are the beliefs that contraceptives promote promiscuity, divorce, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and other evils.

Women seeking contraceptives claim to be traumatized by pharmacist' refusals to fulfill their requests, while pharmacists have been fired, fined, or reprimanded for refusing to distribute contraceptives.

Some pharmacists have stopped carrying such products or have opened pharmacies that do not stock any. One organization, Pharmacists for Life International, promotes a pharmacist's right to refuse to fill such prescriptions and supports pro-life pharmacies.

"This allows a pharmacist who does not wish to be involved in stopping a human life in any way to practice in a way that feels comfortable," said Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life.

The group's website lists seven pharmacies around the country which have pledged to follow pro-life guidelines. Brauer added that the list was "just the tip of the iceberg." She said the pro-life pharmacies were identical to other pharmacies in all other respects. Some pharmacies, she added, also refuse to sell tobacco or tobacco products or pornography.

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