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The Pill refused - over religion.

Byline: By Alison Dayani

A DESPERATE city woman was refused the morning-after pill by a Muslim pharmacist who told her "it was against her religion" to sell it.

The 31-year-old mum went to her local Lloyds Pharmacy, in High Street, Smethwick to buy the emergency contraception, but says she left feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Pharmacist Aleysha Begum, a temp filling in for the normal chemist, refused point blank to prescribe the morning after pill saying she was morally and religiously against it.

Ms Begum refused to comment after taking advice from Lloyds. Lloyds Pharmacy said the national code of conduct allows pharmacists to refuse to sell the pill on religious grounds - whatever their religion.

But a spokeswoman added that the pharmacist must give the patient details of another chemist where they can get the Pill.

An investigation is now under way by Lloyds into whether correct procedures were followed by Ms Begum.

Nick Mortimer, the superintendent pharmacist at Lloyds pharmacy said: "Regrettably we do not have any record of receiving a complaint from this customer.

"But we have asked the Mail to provide us with full details which will enable us to fully investigate the matter. "In the meantime we would point out that The Code of Ethics governing the professional conduct of pharmacists states that, if supplying the morning after pill is contrary to a pharmacist's personal religious or moral beliefs, they are entirely within their rights not to do so."

The woman, from Smethwick, said she was left not knowing what to do and too frightened to go into another chemist in the area, thinking she would be refused again.

"I could see the morning after pill on the shelf, but the pharmacist said she was Muslim and she would not give it to me due to her religious and moral beliefs," said the patient.

"I didn't know they could do that and was stunned. It was the first time I had ever asked for it and felt terribly embarrassed in front of the other customers. "The shop assistant said the normal pharmacist would have given it but Ms Begum was filling in for him."

She added: "If it is someone's job to prescribe drugs then they should.

"I am not a Muslim and as a British woman am entitled to purchase the morning after pill but that right was taken away from me." The medical body overseeing pharmacists, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, advises pharmacists they have a right to refuse to give the morning after pill.

Ann Bryant, Lloyds spokeswoman, said: "We are bound by guidelines by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and they say a pharmacist can refuse to give this contraception.

"We have had a complaint and are looking into it."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 26, 2006
Words:455
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