Washington Board Won’t Protect Pro-Life Pharmacists in Rules

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 20, 2010   |   1:24PM   |   Olympia, WA

The Washington Board of Pharmacy voted on Thursday against changing state rules to allow consideration for pro-life pharmacists and pharmacies that don’t want to dispense drugs that could cause abortions.

The board started a rule-making process a few months ago that had it considering amending the anti-conscience regulations to allow providers to refer patients to nearby providers if they have a conscientious objection to dispensing a drug such as the Plan B pill or the morning after pill.

But last week, on a 5-1 vote, the board decided against moving forward.

“They looked at the rule and said, ‘We think it’s worked fine,’ ” said Tim Church, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, according to the Seattle Times.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, an abortion advocate responsible for the board’s discrimination against pro-life pharmacists, told the newspaper she is happy with the pharmacy board’s decision.

“I could not support a ruling that would limit a patient’s access to medication,” she said. “The board understood that changing the current rule could force patients, especially those living in rural areas, to suffer lengthy delays to receive their medication and cause others to go without entirely.”

Kevin Stormans, co-owner of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, who has filed a lawsuit seeking to protect pharmacists, said he would discuss the next step with his attorneys.

In 2006, Gregoire, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Northwest Women’s Law Center (now Legal Voice) demanded that the Washington Board of Pharmacy pass regulations forcing pharmacists and pharmacies to violate their conscience and dispense Plan B , the morning after pill. Their demands were a part of a national agenda by pro-abortion groups to eliminate conscience rights for these health care professionals and to force private businesses to sell early abortifacients such as Plan B and Ella.

Although the Board initially voted to pass a regulation supporting conscience rights, it abruptly reversed its position when Gregoire threatened the Board.

In 2007, the Board passed the final regulations that require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense drugs like Plan B and Ella regardless of a pharmacist’s religious objection. They prohibit providers from referring patients to nearby providers when the providers have a conscientious objection, but in practice allow providers to refer patients for business and secular reasons.

Dan Kennedy of Human Life of Washington, a pro-life group, has said the board needs to protect pharmacists, not violate their religious or moral views.

“Our right and our duty to act according to our conscience is a foundational principle of liberty. A society that denies individuals the right to act in accord with their conscience, being forced to either violate one’s conscience or abandon one’s livelihood is an act of the worst sort of oppression,” he said. “The right to act according to one’s conscience is a right that no American should be apathetic about.”