Pharmacist’s conscience rights recognised by court

A €3,000 fine on a pharmacist who refused to sell the morning-after pill has been ruled an infringement of his right to conscientious objection, Spain's Constitutional Court has ruled.

The court cited freedoms of religion and conscience protected by article 16 of the Spanish constitution in ruling that the Seville pharmacist, fined by the city of Andalucia in 2008, should not have been sanctioned despite local laws obliging him to sell the abortifacient drug. 

According to the Spanish daily ABC the court believed the decision would not endanger current rights for women to access contraceptive medicine, and did not meaningfully limit access to the drug because the pharmacy’s city centre location meant customers could go elsewhere. 

José Antonio Díez, general coordinator for the Association for the Defence of the Rights of Conscience, described the decision as “historic and pioneering not only in Spain, but in all of Europe”.