Community pharmacists’ role in the sale and supply of EHC represents an opportunity to increase EHC availability and utilize pharmacists’ expertise, but little is known about pharmacists’ attendant ethical concerns. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were undertaken with 23 UK pharmacists to explore their views and ethical concerns about EHC.
Dispensing EHC was ethically acceptable for almost all pharmacists. Still, beliefs about selling EHC revealed three categories: pharmacists who sold EHC, respected women’s autonomy and peers’ conscientious objection but feared the consequences of limited EHC availability; contingently selling pharmacists who believed doctors should be the first choice for EHC supply but who occasionally supplied and were influenced by women’s ages, affluence, and genuineness; non-selling pharmacists who believed EHC was abortion and who found selling EHC distressing and ethically problematic. Terminological misunderstandings about EHC were common, and discussing ethical issues was difficult for most pharmacists. Religion informed non-selling pharmacists’ ethical decisions, but other pharmacists prioritized professional responsibilities over their faith.
The study concluded that pharmacists’ ethical views on EHC and the influence of religion varied. With some pharmacists’ reliance upon non-clinical factors, Pharmacists’ moral views led to a potentially variable supply, which may threaten the prompt availability of EHC.