Originally created 03/17/04

Pharmacist refused to refill prescription because of religious beliefs



MADISON, Wis. -- A state agency is accusing a pharmacist of blocking a woman's attempts to refill her birth control prescription because of his religious beliefs.

The Department of Regulation and Licensing's complaint against Neil Noesen stemmed from his refusal to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy after he refused to fill it himself.

The complaint was filed Friday with the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board over the 2002 incident at a K-Mart pharmacy in Menomonie in northwestern Wisconsin.

Noesen has 20 days to respond, officials said. A telephone listing for his name could not immediately be found Tuesday.

Christopher Klein, spokesman for the Department of Regulation and Licensing, said pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, as long as they transfer the prescriptions to another pharmacy if patients ask.

According to the complaint, Noesen was the only pharmacist on duty on the weekend when a woman came in to refill her birth control prescription. He had told the managing pharmacist that he would not fill contraceptive prescriptions because he considered them in violation of his religious beliefs.

The woman later went to another pharmacy, the complaint states, but Noesen refused to transfer the prescription when that pharmacy called.

The woman even returned to the K-Mart with two police officers, but Noesen still refused, and police took no action.

Finally, she got the prescription refilled when the managing pharmacist returned to work that Monday.

The amended state complaint gave no detail on Noesen's religious beliefs.