Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'Morning-after' Pill Gone at Pharmacists Choosing in WA

Pharmacists in the State of Washington may soon be free to choose the medications they want to provide in their pharmacies – and those they don’t – after a lawsuit prompted the state’s pharmacy board to reevaluate the current regulations.

-- From "Washington pharmacy board making Plan B rules" by Jordan Schrader, The Olympian 7/14/10

Pharmacists who object to selling Plan B emergency contraception suddenly have the upper hand in their legal fight with the state.

In a reversal, the state Board of Pharmacy now wants to let pharmacies refuse to dispense that or any other drug, as long as they refer patients to a pharmacy that sells it.

It's essentially what pharmacies suing the state over moral objections wanted all along, said Kevin Stormans, co-owner of Ralph's Thriftway in Olympia, where druggists don't stock Plan B. "That's what we've done for as long as I can remember," he said.

A trial was set to begin July 26, but a judge postponed it indefinitely Monday at the request of lawyers for both sides, who cited the board's June decision to begin a new rulemaking process.

The deal surprised women's-rights advocates who had watched the pharmacy board pass a rule in 2007 at the urging of Gov. Chris Gregoire that barred pharmacies from refusing to sell a legal drug out of a moral or religious objection. The rule never took effect, awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit.

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From "Washington State to Allow Pharmacies A Choice in Stocking ‘Morning-After Pill’" by Nick Dean, CNSNews.com 7/27/10

The ["morning-after pill"], Levonorgestrel, is promoted as an “emergency contraceptive” for use after sexual intercourse. It is controversial because, in some cases, it works as an abortifacient by preventing the implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg. Concerns also have been raised about health risks to women.

The regulation requiring pharmacists to stock Plan B prompted two pharmacists and a pharmacy to bring a lawsuit against the state.

Proceedings in Stormans v. Selecky were suspended this month after the two sides agreed to stay the case while the state pharmacy board considers changing its current regulations.

The motion to stay the trial was agreed upon to allow the state’s pharmacy board to begin the process of amending the rules, especially the one in question, Sally Boyer, executive director of the Washington State Board of Pharmacy and Clinical Facilities, told CNSNews.com.

Eric Rassbach, the pharmacists' lawyer and national director of litigation for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that a rule requiring pharmacists to stock Plan B is unconstitutional.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.