The conscience clause exists as an attempt to prevent individual pharmacists from having to act in ways that would go against their conscience and violate their integrity. It allows deviation from the standard accepted practice of the profession. This is a profession that places the patient’s interests at its centre. Because of this, we can expect robust arguments about whether and how conscientious objections should be made. There are some convincing arguments in favour of allowing conscientious refusals by way of the conventional compromise, albeit with recognition that there remain some philosophical and practical difficulties with that position.
One possible avenue for further investigation into this area is empirical ethics research. By listening to those with the lived experience of these dilemmas (both pharmacists and patients), we might gain further understanding of the concepts that are considered (in the literature) to be fundamental. By combining philosophical insight and analytic rigour with a richer understanding of what pharmacists actually do in these situations and why, we might understand better how to navigate this practical ethics problem.