Washington Gov Gregoire Proposes Limited Pharmacist Conscience Clause

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 30, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington Gov Gregoire Proposes Limited Pharmacist Conscience Clause Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 30
, 2006

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed a very limited pharmacist’s conscience clause that would allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing a drug in some instances but force them to dispense the drug in others. Her proposal comes after she blasted the state pharmacy board for proposing better protections for pharmacists.

Under Gregoire’s proposal, pharmacists could only avoid filling a prescription for an objectionable drug if the customer is able to get the drug from another pharmacist at that pharmacy.

Should another pharmacist not be available, the prescription would be required to be filled.

The state Board of Pharmacy would need to adopt the proposal before it would go into effect.

The proposal from the governor, who backs abortion, is significantly different from one the state pharmacy board previously put forward which would have allowed pharmacists to opt out as long as they found another pharmacy to fill the prescription.

Nancy Sapiro, a lawyer for the pro-abortion Northwest Women’s Law Center, told AP Gregoire’s idea would also apply to non-prescription sales of the morning after pill.

The FDA recently approved a request to allow sales to anyone over the age of 18. Washington is one of a handful of states that had authorized pharmacies to sell the Plan B drugs without a prescription before the FDA’s decision.

Christina Hulet, Gregoire’s health policy adviser, told the Associated Press she thought the pharmacy board would be receptive to the governor’s proposal.

“I think they would welcome a draft that has been finely negotiated and reached some consensus from the different stakeholder groups,” Hulet said.

The state pharmacy association and abortion advocates have already signed off on it.

Late last month, the state pharmacy board said it was backing away from its proposal. Their unanimous vote came after Gregoire threatened members 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.

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.