Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Taylor Genovese


Health provider "conscience clauses" were first enacted in response to the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and were specifically related to religious or moral objections to abortion. Generally, today's conscience clauses go well beyond the issue of abortion and provide "varying" levels of legal protection for health providers who refuse to perform services that are against their religious or moral beliefs.

This Note argues that legislation that provides an absolute right for pharmacists to refuse to fill valid prescriptions based on the pharmacist's religious or moral beliefs threatens the constitutionally protected right to access contraceptives if the patient's access is substantially interfered with. Legislation that prohibits a pharmacist from refraining from filling prescriptions he or she finds religiously or morally objectionable may go too far in denying the constitutional right to the free exercise of religious belief as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Though not a perfect solution, this Note argues that the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act (ALPHA) sufficiently balances both the free exercise of religious belief and the right to privacy provisions of the U.S. Constitution and should be passed by Congress.