Pharmacists Do Not Enjoy an Explicit Right to Conscientious Objection

Country: Austria

Date of incident: May 21, 2013

Category: Government Restrictions

Attack against: Morals

Area of case: Governmental



In Austria, pharmacists do not enjoy an explicit right to conscientious objection. The so called “morning after pill” may be obtained either by prescription or in case of emergency without a prescription. Besides other functions, the taking of the morning after pill may result in an early abortion. The Austrian criminal code contains a conscience clause for medical staff with regard to abortion. But for pharmacists there is no such clause. It is therefore unclear, whether pharmacists have a right to conscientious objection or not. The professional representation of pharmacists says there isn’t. This body argues that there is a legal obligation to contract; and that not delivering would be an act of non-assistance to a person in danger. Therefore, pharmacists or employees of pharmacies do not dare to withhold the abortifacient drug for conscientious reasons. It is necessary to introduce a law in Austria which explicitly recognises the freedom of conscience of pharmacists.

Source and further information: The Observatory's Report 2012 on Legal Restrictions Effecting Christians in Europe