Ariz. governor vetoes pharmacist "rights of conscience" bill

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 2, 2005

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Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a "rights of conscience" bill that would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraceptives without referring the patient to another pharmacist or pharmacy.

The Arizona Pharmacy Assn., Arizona Public Health Assn. and Arizona Hospital Assn. opposed the measure.

The Arizona Medical Assn. did not take a position on the bill because the state's medical practice act already contains language allowing physicians to opt out of certain procedures on moral grounds if they refer the patient to another physician, ArMA spokeswoman Andrea Smiley said.

Napolitano mentioned the opposition of health care associations in her April 13 veto message and noted that "it is unwise to pass laws opposed by the leading associations of professionals whom the bill purports to protect."

She also said most pharmacies already have internal policies in place that accommodate the customers' medical needs and employees' individual rights. She said the legislation failed to strike a similar balance. Consequently, Napolitano said the bill put a particular burden on women and that it could be vulnerable to legal challenges.

The Arizona House of Representatives passed the bill 35 to 24; the Senate passed it by a 17-11 vote.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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