Rome, Oct. 30, 2007 (CWNews.com) –
Italy’s health minister has denounced a call by Pope Benedict XVI (bio
– news) for pharmacists to refrain from dispensing abortifacient pills.
“I don’t think his warning to pharmacists, to be conscientious
objectors to the morning-after pill, should be taken into
consideration,” the health minister, Livia Turco, told the daily
Corriere della Sera. Turco was responding to the statement made by the
Pontiff on October 29, in a meeting with members of the International
Federation of Catholic Pharmacists. The Pope had said that pharmacists
should never “collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products
that have clearly immoral purposes.” If the laws allow for sales of
such products, Pope Benedict said, pharmacists must “face the question
of conscientious objection.”
Spokesmen for Italian pharmacists remarked that the country’s laws do
not provide a “conscience clause” allowing them to refuse dispensing
such pills. “The law obliges us to sell pharmaceuticals, whatever their
nature, if there is a doctor’s prescription,” Giacomo Leopardi told the
ANSA news service.
Another spokesman for a pharmacist’s group, Franco Caprino, said: “We
can’t be conscientious objectors unless the law is changed.” (Caprino
may have mistaken the meaning of the Pope’s statement, since
conscientious objection usually implies that an individual challenges
an existing regulation, accepting the legal consequences.)
CWN’s insertion of a little commentary
is mostly right. You can be a conscientious objector within
the law where you are protected by the law to do so. But of
course you can also be conscientious objector to protest an unjust law.
The civil rights movement was quite effective in doing this.
What is sad though is the response of
the spokesman for the
Italian pharmacists is that this issue had to be brought out
by the Pope, when it should have been something they should have been
fighting for from the time such a law came into place. Using
a phrase like “whatever their nature” is rather scary when you think
“It is not possible to anaesthetise
the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to
stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone’s life,” the Pope
I just love the way Pope Benedict puts
things into words. Unfortunately so many go beyond just
the conscience to having a consciencectomy to remove it entirely.
Some have seen this as a shot across
the bow for the Connecticut Bishop Conference for their latest decision
to allow Plan B in Catholic hospitals. I suspect that the Pope
has a much larger context for his statements since this applies across
the world. Though it certainly undermines the bishops decision that has
been pretty much universally condemned or called into question.
American Papist, as usual, has a good and expansive posts on this subject.