Supreme Court Denies Noesen Appeal

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court has denied pharmacist Neil Noesen’s petition for review of the 3rd District Court of Appeals decision upholding the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board’s (PEB) reprimand. Noesen, the state-licensed pharmacist who refused to fill or transfer a woman’s birth control prescription in Menomonie in 2002, was disciplined by the PEB in 2005 for his behavior.

The Supreme Court’s denial means that the PEB decision that Noesen’s actions violated the standard of care for pharmacists in Wisconsin and put patients and the public at risk of harm will stand as Wisconsin law. The Supreme Court’s denial of Noesen’s petition for review of the case confirms that the lower courts have clearly defined what the law expects of pharmacists and the appropriate penalties for contemplating blocking a woman’s access to legally prescribed birth control pills. It also ensures that the PEB has the authority to discipline pharmacists in Wisconsin who refuse to fill or transfer a woman’s birth control prescription.

PPAWI is encouraged that the Supreme Court confirms what Wisconsin law makes clear: a pharmacist’s duty is to ensure access to legally prescribed birth control without discrimination or delay. Every court that has heard this case has agreed: in Wisconsin the standard of care we expect from pharmacists is to put the patient’s interests before their own personal opinions. The great majority of pharmacists readily and voluntarily follow this standard of care; however the renegade few like Noesen can be sure that their unethical behavior is a violation of Wisconsin law.

Wisconsin law and ethical codes outline the standard of care expected from a minimally competent licensed pharmacist. Refusing to facilitate access to a legal prescription for birth control pills and confiscating that prescription clearly violated the standard of care articulated under our laws. To provide even further clarification in our state law for women with doctor prescribed birth control, the Senate passed the Birth Control Protection Act on March 13, which would ensure that no woman is ever refused her birth control prescription at a pharmacy counter in Wisconsin again. The bill, which has the support of the Pharmacy Examining Board, did not receive a hearing in the Assembly.

PPAWI will be working very hard this summer and fall to inform our supporters about which candidates support this basic standard of care. The Birth Control Protection Act is critical to the health of Wisconsin women. We want elected officials who will use their power to get it passed, not bury it.

To learn more about the Birth Control Protection Act, visit http://www.ppawi.org/legislation/BCPA.aspx

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