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Canberra pharmacists to declare objections to reproductive medicine under backbench proposal

Pharmacies would have to publicly display whether they support or oppose reproductive health products under an ACT Labor proposal.

On Wednesday MLA Bec Cody will put forward a motion noting stigma “continues to exist” in some parts of the community over women’s reproductive rights.

The motion also notes that pharmacies can refuse to supply prescription or other medication based on the religious or ethical views of a particular pharmacist.

“Any pharmacist that has a moral objection has their right to be that way,” Ms Cody said.

“But [it’s about] being able to let people know, so just by having a sign in the front of the pharmacy that says ‘we will not provide advice or products relating to reproductive rights’.”

Ms Cody said she herself had been “lectured” by a pharmacist when trying to purchase reproductive medicine, and that her experience had been echoed by other women over the years.

“They’re already struggling having to go in there and ask for those things, and then [they have] to be lectured about why they need it, and [told] it wasn’t something that they can have,” she said.

She said her proposal would benefit people on both ends of the transaction.

“It means the pharmacist doesn’t have to go through and feel they’re betraying their own rights,” she said.

“It also means that people don’t need to go in and feel like they’re being humiliated.”

‘Not absolutely necessary’: Pharmacy Guild

Pharmacy Guild ACT President Simon Blacker had not seen the detail of Ms Cody’s motion but warned it could be complicated.

He said advertising rules from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, along with the fact most pharmacies roster multiple pharmacists, could cause confusion.

“In a sensitive area … where it’s not easy to present … to then cause confusion could actually be detrimental,” he said.

Mr Blacker said pharmacists had a duty of care to patients and in the vast majority of cases would provide the medication or product requested.

But he also noted that pharmacists were required to refer on patients if they chose to exercise a personal belief against providing something.

“Pharmacies have assisted patients with these sorts of products for a long time without challenge,” he said.

“I don’t believe [the regulation] is absolutely necessary.”

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