.- Spain's Constitional Court has issued a ruling protecting the conscience rights of pharmacists who decline to sell the morning after pill on the basis of religious belief or other conscientious objection.
The court's finding was based on freedoms of religion and conscience found in article 16 of the Spanish constition.
The decision concerned the case of a pharmacist in Seville who was sanctioned with a 3,000 euro ($3,300) fine by the city council of Andalusia because he decided to not sell the potentially abortion-inducing morning after pill, though local laws obliged him to do so.
In the court’s judgement, the imposed sanction infringed on his right to conscientious objection.
Nevertheless, the judges rejected the pharmacist's decision to not sell condoms, since in their opinion in this case, there is “no conflict of conscience relevant to the constitution.”
José Antonio Díez, general coordinator for the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Conscience, described the decision as “historic and pioneering not only in Spain, but in all of Europe.”
The Professionals for Ethics association of Spain said the decision puts an end to a situation of ambiguity in the law by which the freedom of conscience of those professionals was not sufficiently safeguarded.
As for the pharmacist’s alleged non-compliance to have the morning after pill available at his store, the Spanish daily ABC reported that the judges did not consider the decision to put at risk a woman’s right “to access contraceptive medicines authorized by the current legal system.” Nor was a woman’s access to the pill prevented, because the pharmacy is located downtown and she could go to another one.