VATICAN CITY Pharmacists must be allowed to refuse to supply drugs that cause abortion or euthanasia, Pope Benedict said on Monday, calling on health professionals to be "conscientious objectors" against such practices.
The Pope told a convention of Roman Catholic pharmacists that part of their job was to help protect human life from conception until natural death -- the Church teaching that rules out any deliberate termination of pregnancy or euthanasia.
"It is not possible to anaesthetise the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone's life," the Pope said.
The so-called abortion pill, which is available in many European Union countries and has had regulatory approval in the United States since 2000, has not been authorised in Italy.
The Vatican has criticised moves by some Italian politicians who favour the pill, which blocks the action of the hormone progesterone that is needed to sustain a pregnancy.
The Pope told the international gathering that individual pharmacists could always choose not to prescribe such a drug.
"I invite your federation to consider conscientious objection which is a right that must be recognised for your profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply of products which have clearly immoral aims, for example abortion or euthanasia," he said.