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Hadassah Passes National Board Resolution to Balance Religion in the Workplace With Civil Liberties

Genever McBain


(New York, NY -- January 18, 2007) -- At meetings of the national board held earlier this week, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, passed a resolution calling for balance between religion in the workplace and civil liberties. The resolution was in response to recent key policy initiatives at the state and federal levels that would broaden employees’ freedom in the workplace, while potentially impacting personal civil liberties of co-workers, clients, and patients. Specifically, these laws could threaten the rights of women seeking reproductive services, and/or religious or racial minorities and the gay community.

In recent years, several states have expanded moral refusal clauses to pharmacists. Under moral refusal clauses, pharmacists may refuse to dispense certain prescriptions to a patient on the basis of the pharmacist’s personal religious or moral beliefs. Although these moral refusals can be applied to any type of legal drug to which a pharmacist has a moral objection, in practice it affects the dispensation of emergency contraceptives and regular contraceptives.

Hadassah has long and steadfastly supported reproductive rights and the rights of individuals to observe their religion in the workplace, and has joined any number of amicus briefs on these issues. However, the organization believes that the right to religious freedom is not absolute.

According to the Resolution, Balancing Religion in the Workplace and Civil Liberties: “Religious observers are not entitled to demand accommodation without regard to the harm or burden it may place on others….With respect to pharmacy moral refusals, Hadassah calls upon U.S. governments and businesses to put into place mechanisms that ensures patients’ access to medication without delay. Where access to medications cannot be provided without delay, the right to healthcare must supersede the right to religious accommodation.”

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