Catholic PM criticises Catholic chemist in pill dispute

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has criticised a pharmacist for asking customers using the pill for birth control, to shop elsewhere.

“That would certainly strike me as highly unusual behaviour,” Mr Abbott, a Catholic, told Fairfax Radio on Friday.

“Chemists should act professionally”, he said.

Mr Abbott said, ”If anyone has a problem with that, who has received that kind of material … well I think they have a right to raise it with the various pharmaceutical bodies and say ‘what’s going on’?”

Mr Abbott’s comments come after a social media campaign gathered momentum, attacking pharmacist, Simon Horsfall’s anti-contraceptive stance.

Horsfall, who owns the pharmacy in Thurgoona, on the outskirts of Albury, refuses to stock condoms and the morning-after pill, and places a note inside each oral contraceptive prescription the pharmacy fulfils.

A portion of the note reads: “If your primary reason for taking this medicine is contraceptive then it would be appreciated, that in the future, you could respect our views and have your OCP prescriptions filled elsewhere.”

The nearest pharmacy is 3km away.

Horsfall says he has slipped the note into pill packets for 12 years.

“It’s about integrity, if you say one thing and do something else that is hypocricy. We practise what we preach,” he said.

Speaking with 3AW, Kathleen Horsfall said the pharmacists don’t impose their values on anyone. They sell the contraceptive pill to those who ignore their note, those with menstrual irregularity or problems with acne.

Pharmacy chain, Soul Pattinson released a statement late on Thursday saying it had ended its association with the Thurgoona pharmacy and did not support the chemist’s stance on contraceptive products.

Simon Horsefall told The Border Mail, that Soul Pattinson knew he would not dispense the birth control pill for contraceptive purposes when they entered into an agreement with him four years ago.

Elsewhere in Victoria

Mulqueeny Pharmacy, which has stores in Melbourne’s Windsor and in Swanston Street, also refuses to stock the morning-after pill but sells the oral contraceptive pill and condoms, reports West Australia Today.

Pharmacy proprietor Stephen Mulqueeny, a practising Catholic, said he refused to dispense the emergency contraception because his priest advised him against it.

Dr Sally Cockburn, better known in the media as Dr Feelgood, said one of her patients was refused access to the morning-after pill at the late-night Windsor pharmacy and was not told about the 72-hour grace period. She said the woman fell pregnant and had to have an abortion.

She called on more pharmacies to disclose their stance on reproductive services and said those that did should not be vilified.


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