Respect beliefs of Thurgoona pharmacist: Bishop

The Catholic Church’s most senior local figure believes commercial realities forced Soul Pattinson to cut ties with a Thurgoona pharmacist who chooses not to dispense the birth control pill for contraceptive purposes.

But Bishop of Wagga Gerard Hanna said the company could have been more understanding of pharmacist Simon Horsfall and respected his right of conscience.

“There are those who thought they might have taken a more compassionate view, maybe tried to see where Mr Horsfall was coming from, but that’s not the realities of the commercial world,” he said.

“That’s their prerogative, it’s a commercial arrangement.”

Bishop Hanna, who has previously met Mr Horsfall, said he wasn’t aware if the company knew of his stance before linking with him four years ago.

“He’s obviously a man who has a very active, very precise conscience around these issues and he’s free to do that,” he said.

Bishop Hanna, who last week weighed in on a campaign to end protests outside an Albury abortion clinic, said he’d mostly received favourable reactions to his comments in The Border Mail.

“I’ve had some positive feedback, it’s been encouraging,” he said.

“People appreciated having the opportunity to have the point of view put clearly of what they were trying to achieve; they were keeping the law, they were following the directives of the council.”

Bishop Hanna said he hadn’t heard reports that one protester had called a woman entering the clinic a “wicked sinner”.

“That would clearly be a form of harassment and you’re not permitted to do that,” he said.

“It’s a form of harassment to call people names in a derogatory way.”

Bishop Hanna said he had also received one or two emails saying abortion was not the church’s business.

“I expect that though, putting it in the public forum,” he said.

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