Thurgoona pharmacist refuses to provide contraceptive pill for birth control

Please note: This story was first published in The Border Mail newspaper on June 24, 2005

THURGOONA pharmacist Simon Horsfall says he has been congratulated more than criticised for telling women to shop elsewhere if they want to use the contraceptive pill for birth control.

Mr Horsfall, a Catholic, inserts a note with the pill asking women to obtain |the pill from another pharmacy unless |they need the contraceptive for other |medical reasons.

Mr Horsfall said he and his wife, Kathleen, also a pharmacist, followed the Catholic Church's belief that it was wrong to use "artificial contraception".

Mr Horsfall's note tells customers the pill is used for painful or irregular periods, hormonal and skin problems, as well as contraception.

It says: "If your primary reason for taking this medicine is contraceptive then it would be appreciated that, in the future, you would respect our views and have your OCP (oral contraceptive pill) prescriptions filled elsewhere".

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Mr Horsfall, the father of nine children aged five months to 17 years, said the Catholic Church accepted drug-free methods of birth control such as the Billings Method.

Mr Horsfall has run the Thurgoona Family Pharmacy with Kathleen for the past 3 years and in that time Mr Horsfall said he had received just two complaints about the pill policy.

The pharmacy does not stock any other form of contraception such as condoms but does sell Viagra.

A spokesman from The Pharmacy Guild of Australia said like any other retailer Mr Horsfall could choose which products he wanted to stock or endorse.

The spokesman said fewer than 1 per cent of pharmacies in Australia had concerns about issuing the contraceptive pill and it was a "non-issue".

"Basically we can't tell him what to do, nor would we want to," the spokesman said.

Manager of Women's Health Goulburn North East Susie Reid suggested it was not for Mr Horsfall to refuse to supply the pill to women who may not share his values.

She said not being able to get the pill at Thurgoona would create difficulties for women and teenagers without their own transport to seek an alternative pharmacy.

Women's Health was concerned that rural women already faced limited access to contraceptive choice and to health services generally

She was keen to hear from women experiencing problems accessing contraception.

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