Exploring pharmacists' views surrounding conscientious objection to abortion and implications in practice

Maxwell, Clare, McKendrick, Jane, Hanlon, Claire, Penson, Peter ORCID: 0000-0001-6763-1489 and Fleming, Valerie
(2021) Exploring pharmacists' views surrounding conscientious objection to abortion and implications in practice. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACY PRACTICE, 29 (3). pp. 258-264.

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<h4>Background</h4>General Pharmaceutical Council standards (UK) state 'pharmacy professionals have the right to practise in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs as long as they …make sure that person-centred care is not compromised', indicating a potential conflict for pharmacists who wish to exercise their right to conscientious objection (CO) to abortion while maintaining a duty of care to their patients.<h4>Objective</h4>The objective of this study was to explore pharmacists' views of conscientious objection to abortion and whether this included the supply of EC and the impact on practice.<h4>Method</h4>Eighteen UK pharmacists were interviewed using semistructured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, imported into NVivo11 and analysed using thematic analysis.<h4>Key findings</h4>Five themes were identified: beliefs as to what constitutes abortion, influences on beliefs, conflicts of conscience, accommodating conscience and professional obligations. Views were polarised in relation to the role of emergency contraception (EC) as an abortifacient. Religion was often viewed as the reason underpinning CO to abortion. Conflicts in relation to CO to abortion included the role of referral and EC and employability for objectors. Some pharmacists viewed their role of providing patient choice as incompatible with the right of CO to abortion.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study shows the conflicts and challenges surrounding CO to abortion in professional pharmacy practice. While the majority of pharmacists believe CO to abortion should and could be accommodated, this can prove challenging in certain working environments, both in relation to ensuring a duty of care to patients is upheld and due to the ongoing debate concerning EC and whether it has a definitive role in abortion or not.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: pharmacists, conscientious objection, abortion, emergency contraception, abortifacients
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Life Courses and Medical Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2021 15:49
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:37
DOI: 10.1093/ijpp/riab009
Open Access URL: https://academic.oup.com/ijpp/article/29/3/258/623...
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3128155