by Steven Ertelt
April 2, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pharmacists in Washington state would be forced to help customers find the morning after pill and other drugs they may object to if the state Board of Pharmacy gives final approval to new rules it tentatively adopted last September.
The new rules were 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 participate in getting orders for the drug filled.
The board held a discussion of the proposal on Friday and the comments it received during an open hearing Thursday.
Under the proposal, a pharmacist would be allowed to decline to fill a prescription for a drug, such as the morning after pill, if it violated his religious or moral beliefs. But the pharmacist would be required to help the customer find the drug in a timely manner.
The board also said that pharmacies would be required to stock all drugs to serve their customers, which could require some pharmacies that don’t want to stock the morning after pill to keep it on hand.
The vote is expected to take place by April 12.
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 rules.
The Pharmacy Board adopted the rules it’s currently considering 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, said.
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.