Pharmacists for Life International to uphold the humour and dignity of the pharmaceutical profession

A desire to combat trends toward using medications to end or destroy human lives is one of the factors motivating the work of a group of pro-life pharmacists.

Pharmacists  for Life International was founded in the U.S. in 1984 and now has several thousand members in chapters covering Ireland, Australia, Puerto Rico, and North and South America.  The Canadian Chapter, now with about 125 members, was founded in Calgary three years ago.

“Our concern is to uphold the honour and dignity of the [pharmaceutical] profession.” Says Mike Izzotti, PFLI’s co-ordinator for central and eastern Canada.

“We believe there should be full care for all human beings, from conception to natural death.  Medicines should be used for alleviating diseases and for providing comfort and care.”

Izzoti says while the Canadian organization basically serves as an educational outlet  which tries to inform people of issues relating to medications, such as the harmful side effects of oral contraceptives, it also serves as a mutual support network for pro-life pharmacists and is working on a “conscience clause” for pharmacists.

Although it steers clear of political activities such as boycotts, PFLI sometimes directs its educational efforts at preventing the importation of life-ending drugs, such as the RI486 abortion pill.

On an international scale, PFLI has speakers’ bureaus and provides for medical, legal and financial referrals.  It also gives low cost, prenatal vitamins and supplies to pregnancy crisis and counselling centres.

Canadian members are kept informed through a quarterly newsletter.  Izzotti says the Canadian chapter’s growth and the fact that it is now has members from coast to coast means PFLI Canada will soon begin holding regular national meetings.  A step towards this took place during Human Life International’s November conference in Calgary, when Canadian leaders met to discuss future plans.

Izzoti stresses PFLI Canada is still in the building stage.  “We haven’t done a lot of advertising…A lot of people haven’t heard of us yet—there are 20,000 pharmacists in Canada.”

Despite its relatively short existence, however, the organization has been active.  “We’re attending conferences and getting a lot of materials out,” says Izzotti.  “We’ve had articles about us published in two pharmacy journals…Our membership increased since those articles because a lot of pharmacists read those journals.”

He says although PFLI is treading into what may be controversial territories, there have been negative responses to the organization’s work from other pharmacists so far.  “I think pharmacists realize there’s a possibility they may have to get involved in these things [chemical abortions and euthanasia] and they’re not sure which way to turn…Our hope is that those things go the way of cigarette sales in pharmacies, which many provinces have moved to eliminate.”

Customers have a role to play in encouraging a pro-life philosophy in the philosophy in the pharmaceutical profession, says Izzotti.  “Customers might want to ask their pharmacists when they are not busy about what they think of RU486 or [chemical] abortion techniques so that pharmacists know the public is concerned.  After all, promotions urge customers to ‘Ask your pharmacist’.”

Izzotti points to a further increase in membership as one of PFLI Canada’s immediate goals.  Another is exploring the possibilities of establishing a pro-life pharmacy.

“We’re interested in promoting a pharmacy which won’t have any abortifacient chemicals…It would send a message to other pharmacies that people are upset about the stocking of chemicals and contraceptives which are aborticacient.”

He says such a pro-life pharmacy might function most effectively as a mail order operation.  If so, it would only work within the province in which it is established because prescriptions cannot be filled outside provincial borders.

Izzotti says PFLI Canada also acts as a consultative agency for anyone concerned about medications and human life issues.  He adds he organization’s telephone is available to anyone with questions on topics.

Pharmacists for Life Canada can be reached at Box 43508, 180 James St. S., Hamilton, ON L8P 4V0, (905)-528-4828.