A pharmacist who refused to fill a birth control prescription was punished on Wednesday in Madison, Wisc., when the state Pharmacy Examining Board reprimanded him and limited his license, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Pharmacist Neil T. Noesen, 31, refused in July 2002 to fill a prescription for Amanda Phiede, then a student at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. Noesen was working as a free-lance pharmacist on a Saturday at a Menomonie Kmart pharmacy when he also refused to transfer Phiede’s prescription to another pharmacy, causing Phiede to miss one of her doses before she finally received her prescription from another pharmacist on Monday.

The disciplinary action against Noesen requires him to provide advance written notice to all pharmacies where he works about professional duties and obligations he declines to perform and the steps he will take to ensure alternative pharmacy access to patients he won’t service. He is also required to undergo six hours of professional practices continuing education and pay the cost of the proceedings he has caused, estimated at $20,000.

Other Things to Cheer this Week

— Congressional Democrats introduced legislation this week that would require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. The legislation is aimed at pharmacists across the country who have refused to fill birth control prescriptions because of their religious beliefs.

“A pharmacist’s personal beliefs should not come between a patient and their doctor,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey. The bill, however, is unlikely to move through the Congress, now controlled by members who oppose reproductive rights.

— In a remarkable move toward women’s rights, Saudi clerics cracked down on fathers who force their daughters into marriage saying such men should be jailed until they change their mind, reports the Houston Chronicle. Sheik Abdul-Aziz bin Al Abdullah al-Sheik, the top mufti in the kingdom, issued a statement on Tuesday saying coercing women into marriage was “un-Islamic” and a “major injustice.”

— The Iranian parliament approved a bill this week that allows abortion until four months of pregnancy when the mother’s life is in danger or the fetus is malformed, reports the Houston Chronicle. The bill requires the consent of both parents and approval by three doctors and a coroner.

— Women are starting to take the first driver’s license exam offered to them in Herat, Afghanistan, reports The Washington Post on Monday. But many of them have concerns about harassment they might endure on the road once they pass their test and start driving cars.

— Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in Britain, faces tough questions this week about allegations that thousands of women it employs as fruit growers in South Africa endure “appalling” conditions, reports the Observer. This comes on the heels of Tesco’s announcement on Tuesday of record profits amounting to over two billion pounds ($3.7 billion).

— Manhattan Democratic City Councilmember Bill Perkins wants to require every city agency to report the percentage of women and minorities in their agency jobs and awarded contract work, reports the Daily News on Monday. Perkins introduced the bill in response to recent studies showing women and minorities lag behind in companies with municipal contracts and many Big Apple agencies.


To pave the way for easy passage of legislation that would make it harder for debtors to get a fresh financial start by filing for bankruptcy, House Republicans forbade lawmakers from voting amendments to the measure and allowed little time for debate.

New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney took to the House floor on Thursday to complain that lawmakers had been denied the opportunity to vote on an amendment that would prioritize the debtor’s child support obligations over payments to credit card companies.

Maloney then asked for a unanimous consent agreement to insert in the Congressional Record–the daily transcript of floor proceedings–documents from outside groups that share her concern about the effect of the bill on women and children.

But a Republican from Texas, Rep. Sam Johnson, took the unusual step of objecting to what is normally a routine procedure, attempting to deny Maloney the ability to make a public record of her and others’ concerns about the legislation.

That led to a fight on the House floor in which Maloney prevailed. The request was resubmitted, the objection was lifted and the documents made it into the record. Soon after, the legislation cleared the House. It now awaits the president’s signature.

Other Things to Jeer this Week:

— Two Illinois pharmacists sued on Wednesday to reclaim their perceived right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions on a moral basis, reports The Associated Press. The American Center for Law and Justice filed the lawsuit on behalf of pharmacists Peggy Pace and John Menges, both from Edwardsville, against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who ordered them to fill birth control prescriptions regardless of their religious beliefs.

— Iran refused a Canadian request for an international forensic team on Tuesday to examine the body of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, reports the Houston Chronicle. Kazemi died in 2003 while in Iranian police custody after arrest for photographing a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. An Iranian physician once on staff of Iran’s defense ministry and now living in exile in Canada said two weeks ago that he had examined Kazemi in prison and found evidence that she had been brutally raped, flogged and otherwise tortured.

— A Louisiana Republican legislator A.G. Crowe filed a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo counseling and pay for it, reports The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Wednesday. “Counseling is mandatory for adoption. It should be mandatory for an abortion . . . which is lethal and the death of a child which cannot be reversed,” said Crowe. William Rittenberg, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, said this bill “would create an undue burden on the woman’s right to an abortion” making it ununconstitutional.

— Alison Stevens and Molly Ginty contributed to this report.

Rasha Elass is an intern at Women’s eNews and a freelance writer based in New York City. She attends Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Alison Stevens is Women’s eNews’ Washington bureau chief. Molly Ginty is a freelance writer based in New York.