The Buck Stops There

by Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday the Board of Pharmacy ruled the Legislature should decide whether or not Montana’s pharmacists will follow a single ethical and professional standard.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy took no action Wednesday after hearing comment on the issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Board member Mark Meredith of Helena added that a decision on whether new regulations are necessary should come from state lawmakers, not the six-member pharmacy board. “I think we should wait and see what happens in the Legislature,” he said.

I agree; I said as much last December. Although I do find the attitude of the Board odd. Its executive director, Ron Klein, in a story aired on MTPR’s Montana Morning News (and unfortunately not available online) said pharmacies should be allowed to operate like any other retail business, a view reflected in his comments after John Lane’s hearing last month. This argument is disingenuous. If a pharmacy was just like any other store, then there wouldn’t be the need for a Board of Pharmacy–or Ron Klein. Obviously, the very presence of both indicates the state has a strong interest in regulating this profession, an interest it doesn’t take in other retail businesses. After all, there isn’t a Montana Board of Underpants, a Montana Board of Camping Gear, or a Montana Board of Stylish Yet Comfortable Shoes.

So I guess it’s up to us–the voters–to make sure pharmacists dispense all legal prescriptions. We need to elect people to the Legislature who will make sure these professionals respect the decisions made by Montana women and their doctors. Missoulians are lucky. We’ve got a solid delegation of local legislators, with one notable exception. As Bill Vaughn pointed out on Dark Acres, HD 100 Representative Bill Nooney, who’s up for re-election, has an “A+” rating (let’s hope he got a gold star or a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker) from the less-than-transparent Montana Family Action of Laurel, home of Senator Dan “All Flawed” McGee and Representative Krayton “Blood Sport” Kerns. Bill’s 100% means he can’t be counted on to introduce the bill creating the law the Board of Pharmacy needs, but I’m sure some of these fine folks can help us.


  1. N8tive

    No prescription should be subject to approval beyond your doctors.

    Do pharmacists pay the same attention to prescriptions for anti-depressants for children? How about pain killers for elderly? Is the scrutiny for methadone for addicts as strict?

    Are pharmacists moral judges of the community? Where would the judgement end? Your daughter, or mine?

  2. After all, there isn’t a Montana Board of Underpants, a Montana Board of Camping Gear, or a Montana Board of Stylish Yet Comfortable Shoes.

    This is hilarious.

    I agree pharmacists should be required to fill ALL prescriptions; however, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for our Legislature making pharmacists do their jobs.

  3. goof houlihan

    “pharmacies should be allowed to operate like any other retail business”

    I guess the pharmacy professionals will want to be considered store clerks, now too?

    Other professions have blazed a trail from profession to job, and it’s been to the detriment of all they serve.

  4. With some of the Legislature’s most contentious far right wingers (Koopman, Sinrud, Jore) not running this year, Patia, I’ve got a little bit of hope.

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