Washington Gov Threatens Pharmacy Board Over Conscience Clause

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington Gov Threatens Pharmacy Board Over Conscience Clause Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 6, 2006

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, a pro-abortion Democrat, threatened members of the state’s pharmacy board on Monday after they approved a limited pharmacist’s conscience clause last week.

The board said pharmacists should be allow to opt out of dispensing drugs that violate their moral or religious beliefs as long as they refer the customer to another pharmacist or pharmacy.

Pharmacists can opt out of filling the prescription but cannot “obstruct a patient in obtaining a lawfully prescribed drug or device" and must assist the customer in finding a timely alternative.

Gregoire has adamantly opposed any kind of legal protections for the rights of pharmacists and threatened member of the board.

Saying the board "made a mistake," the governor warned that the state legislature could overrule the Pharmacy Board’s guidelines or even replace members of the board who supported the conscience clause.

The guidelines have only been conditionally approved the governor’s threats could change some minds between now and when the pharmacy board votes on a final approval.

"It’s time it is corrected. I will work over the course of the next couple of months to help them correct it," Gregoire told reporters at a news conference at the state capitol.

Gregoire enjoyed strong backing from pro-abortion groups in her 2004 re-election campaign, where she defeated pro-life Republican candidate Dino Rossi only after a bitter recount battle, but she claimed her stance on pharmacists has nothing to do with abortion.

Pro-life groups support a conscience clause because they want pharmacists to be able to opt out of dispensing drugs such as the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.

According to a report in the Olympian newspaper, the governor said she was exploring her legal options on how to change the conscience clause by the August vote.

"I want to work through the process. I want this corrected. I wanted it done right in August. If it’s not, I will do what is necessary to correct it," Gregoire said.

At one point she accused the Pharmacy Board of operating like a dictatorship.

Gregoire said she may propose her own guidelines, which would like move the debate in another direction.

She and abortion advocacy groups favor a mandate forcing pharmacists to fill all legal prescriptions, even for abortion-causing drugs, similar to one Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich put in place there. He has come under fire for his executive order and pharmacists have filed three lawsuits against him to overturn it.

C.J. Kahler, past president of the Washington State Pharmacy Association, told AP that his group favors the board’s preliminary decision.

“The patient needs to get the medication they need; the pharmacist needs to be able to practice within their conscience limits. This allows both,” he said.

Washington is one of a handful of states nationwide to allow over the counter sales of the morning after pill, which pro-life observers say makes it more important to have a pharmacists’ conscience clause.

Also, pharmacists say a conscience clause is needed.

Daphne McBreen of Seattle said it’s not difficult for a customer to get another pharmacist to fill a prescription.

Jeffery Williams, a pharmacist with Saint Francis Hospital in Federal Way, agreed and told the board, "Suppression of conscience is coercion and discrimination."

The board backed the limited conscience clause on a 5-0 vote.

Related web sites:
Governor Gregoire – https://www.governor.wa.gov