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Protecting the Right of Pharmacists to Follow Their Conscience

#FreedomOfConscience

Topic | Freedom of Conscience

In Berlin, the pharmacist Andreas Kersten continues to be prosecuted for acting in line with his conscience. After he would not sell the ‘morning-after-pill’ for conscience reasons he is facing legal proceedings initiated by the Berlin Chamber of Pharmacists in 2018. In principle, the first instance court ruled in favor of Kersten in 2020 – a first time ruling on a pharmacist’s right to act in accordance with his conscience regarding the sale of certain products in Germany. The Pharmacists’ Chamber, however, appealed against the decision.

Who:
Andreas Kersten

Where:
Administrative Court of Berlin

Advocacy Team:
Felix Böllmann

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“Nobody should be forced to choose between their conscience and their profession. Personal beliefs and conscience influence all areas of a person’s life and are not simply laid down in a professional setting."

- Felix Böllmann, Senior Counsel at ADF International Tweet quote

Case Summary

Before his retirement, Andreas Kersten owned and operated a pharmacy in Berlin. In accordance with his conscience and his deeply held beliefs, he neither stocked nor sold the ‘morning-after-pill’. This drug can prevent the implantation of an embryo in the uterus and cause the death of an unborn child.

After refusing to sell the product in his pharmacy, he was reported to the Berlin Pharmacists’ Chamber which took the matter to the Professional Court at the Administrative Court of Berlin. For the first time, a German court ruled on this matter and upheld the pharmacists right to act in accordance with his conscience regarding the sale of certain products.

Pharmacists’ Chamber files appeal against ruling

The court stated that the pharmacist had not neglected his professional duty and had the right to conscientiously object in such a situation. Subsequently, the Pharmacists’ Chamber has filed an appeal challenging this ruling.

“The first instance ruling was a clear statement that the pharmacist had the right to act in line with his conscience and did not neglect his professional duty in doing so. The right to freedom of conscience must include the right to act accordingly. A free society relies upon its citizens acting conscientiously,” said Felix Böllmann, Senior Counsel for ADF International.

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