Washington State Pharmacists Forced to Dispense Morning After Pill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington State Pharmacists Forced to Dispense Morning After Pill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 3
, 2006

Kent, WA (LifeNews.com) — Pharmacists in Washington state must dispense the morning after pill, according to a new policy the state Board of Pharmacy tentatively adopted. It approved a new ruled proposed by pro-abortion Gov. Chris Gregoire that would allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing a drug in some instances but force them to dispense the drug in others.

The rule says pharmacists "have a duty to dispense lawfully prescribed … drugs or devices."

Under Gregoire’s initial proposal, pharmacists could only avoid filling a prescription for or selling 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 objecting pharmacist would be force to sell the drug to the customer.

The board dropped that aspect of the proposal, but still has to cast a final vote on the rule later in the year. It could amend the rule before then.

State lawmakers could also agree to new changes to the policy.

The Pharmacy Board adopted the proposal on a 6-1 vote with only Seattle pharmacist Donna Dockter objecting to the new policy. She had originally written a more broad pharmacists’ conscience clause that Gregoire strenuously opposed.

Pharmacists were unhappy with the decision, which limits their ability to follow up on their moral or religious views that may make them opposed to selling the Plan B pills.

C.J. Kahler, a Sammamish pharmacist and former state pharmacy association president, told AP that the decision limits the rights of pharmacists and their religious freedoms. He said the decision forces him to "stuff my conscience."

Abortion advocates were happy with the vote.

"It’s been really challenging for all of us, but we really are pleased with the results," Nancy Sapiro, a lawyer for the Northwest Women’s Law Center, told the Associated Press.

The new rule 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.

After that rule was proposed, Gregoire threatened members of the board. She 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 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.