Judge Rules Against Birth Control Withholder

A Roman Catholic (search) pharmacist who blocked a woman's attempt to fill a prescription for birth control pills should be reprimanded and required to attend ethics classes, a judge ruled Monday.

Administrative Law Judge Colleen Baird recommended the punishment for Neil Noesen of St. Paul (search), Minn., who said it would be a sin under his religion to provide a contraceptive.

He refused in July 2002 to fill the woman's prescription himself or transfer it to another pharmacy.

Noesen's attorney, Krystal Williams-Oby, said the finding was unfair to her client and other pharmacists who have a personal objection to dispensing birth control. She said Wisconsin law does not address the issue, nor do state rules established by the Pharmacy Examining Board (search).

"What the state is doing is holding my client to a standard that does not exist," she said.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, Chris Taylor, said she was happy the judge found Noesen had violated the code of ethics by refusing to transfer the prescription.

Baird noted that state rules prohibit pharmacists from engaging in practices that could be a "danger to the health, welfare or safety of a patient or public." Baird found Noesen put the customer at risk of an unwanted pregnancy through his actions.

The judge's recommendation goes to the Pharmacy Examining Board, which is expected to rule in April. The board can implement the judge's recommendation, modify it or reject it.

There was no listing for Noesen in St. Paul, Minn., when The Associated Press attempted to reach him for comment Monday. Phiede did not return a message from the AP left with state officials overseeing her complaint.