Washington Pharmacy Board Considering Pharmacist’s Conscience Clause

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 13, 2006

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — The Washington State Board of Pharmacy is considering proposing a state policy allowing pharmacists to opt out of dispensing the morning after pill on religious or moral groups as long as the pharmacist refers the customer to another pharmacy where the prescription can be filled.

Rod Shafer, executive director of the Washington State Pharmacy Association, told the Associated Press he thinks the proposal is a good idea to respect the rights of pharmacists and patients alike.

"We are not dispensing machines," Shafer said. "We are professionals who have as many rights as anybody else."

But the idea is coming under attack from abortion advocates.

Nancy Sapiro, of the pro-abortion Northwest Women’s Law Center, told AP, "We don’t believe saying ‘Sorry, we won’t dispense that here. Go somewhere else,’ is an adequate response."

She said the policy would discriminate against those in rural areas with fewer pharmacy choices.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, a pro-abortion Democrat, has sent the pharmacy board a letter opposing the proposal.

The board held a public hearing in Kent on Friday and the organization says it has heard from dozens of pharmacists across the state wanting to know the official guidelines.

The pharmacy board presented a proposal to its board of directors in January and plans more public hearings in the coming months, according to the AP report.

The language of the proposal states pharmacists may "act in accord with his or her moral, ethical, or religious principles, which may include conscientious objection to performing certain pharmacy care services."