Further Clarifying the Muddied Waters of Freedom of Conscience


We've received some comments and feedback on our story regarding the new "Freedom of Conscience" law, which goes into effect today, July 1.

As a matter of clarification, RU-486 (a drug that ends pregnancy) is a treatment that can only be given directly from a physician and requires no prescription. Therefore, pharmacists would not be involved in the distribution of any treatment involving RU-486.

The new law states "Abortifacient means any drug that causes an abortion as defined in 18-604, Idaho Code, emergency contraception or any drug the primary purpose of which is to cause the destruction of an embryo or fetus."

However, 18-604, Idaho Code never refers to emergency contraception (such as Plan B or The-Morning-After Pill) as an abortifacient. In addition, the American Medical Association and even the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare do not classify emergency contraception as an abortifacient.

Stacy Falkner, Public Affairs Field Organizer of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, says this is where the legal waters are muddied.

"In spite of prior Idaho Code, the AMA and even Idaho's Health and Welfare department, the new law attempts to include emergency contraception as an abortifacient, which it's not."

Simply put, a pharmacist might interpret the law to include emergency contraception and refuse to distribute Plan B, based on their moral objection.

"There's great reason for concern," says Falkner.

We can expect a lot more conversation on the issue.