Washington Women File Complaint After Pharmacies Deny Morning After Pills

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 1, 2006

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Nine women have filed a complaint with the state pharmacy board after four local pharmacies denied their request to fill prescriptions for the morning after pill. The complaints come on the heels of an announcement that the FDA is working on making the Plan B drug available over the counter to women over 18 years of age.

The women, all hailing from Olympia, filed the complaint with the Washington State Board of Pharmacy yesterday.

One of the women, Samantha Margerum, said three pharmacists told her they would not fill the prescription until a Walgreens filled it in West Olympia.

The nine women say they had a total of 17 rejections by pharmacies in Olympia and Lacey, Washington.

The complaint "shows that there are major access problem in this community," Janet Blanding, an Olympia pro-abortion activist who organized a boycott of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia in June after it rejected her prescription, told the Seattle Times. "These were legal prescriptions given to women of childbearing age."

Late last month, he Washington state pharmacy board said it was backing away from its proposal to grant pharmacists a conscience clause that would allow them to opt out of dispensing drugs such as the morning after pill.

The board announced the proposal earlier this year, but voted unanimously last month to reconsider the wording of it at its meeting later in August, where it was expected to be finalized.

Under the previous proposal, pharmacists could have opted 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.

Though the limited conscience clause would have applied to all drugs, the morning after pill received the most scrutiny in public debate.

Rod Shafer, executive director of the Washington State Pharmacy Association, which supported the limited conscience clause, told the newspaper the board faced intense pressure.

"I think they were under a lot of pressure, both from the public and from lawmakers who were feeling pressure from advocacy groups," he said.

Washington is one of a handful of states that has authorized pharmacies to sell the Plan B drugs without a prescription.