BHA comments on conscientious objection clause for pharmacists

20 May, 2010

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today sent a second response to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on new standards that are being written to regulate the profession.  The BHA response focuses on the conduct, ethics and performance section of the standards which deals with the question of allowing pharmacists to opt out of delivering certain services if they feel it is against their beliefs to provide the service.

Pepper Harow, Campaigns Officer, commented, ‘The question of conscience regarding the provision of certain services, such as the morning after or contraceptive pill, should be dealt with with great care. It should not be permissible for service providers to allow the religious beliefs of their staff to dictate the nature or level of service provided to the service user. Our submission today has made that point and asks that any conscience clause in the code for pharmacists is strictly limited and is subject to ensuring that the patient can easily access the service elsewhere.

‘In a free and open society, it is reasonable that the right to express religion or belief is accommodated but this must be balanced in a way that does not infringe on the rights of others. The Humanist Philosophers, affiliated to the BHA, is currently undertaking work on the issue of opt outs and conscientious objection. We hope that this open debate can help to promote a consistent approach in areas of such sensitivity.’


For further comment or information, contact Pepper Harow at or 020 7462 4992.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned, non-religious people living in the UK.