Court says pharmacists can’t be forced to dispense morning-after pill

A federal court on Wednesday (Feb. 22) struck down a Washington state rule that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after … Continued

A federal court on Wednesday (Feb. 22) struck down a Washington state rule that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill even if it violates their religious beliefs.

Religious liberty advocates cheered the decision. They have decried the 2007 state regulation as a violation of pharmacists’ First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of religion.

“Today’s decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs,” said Luke Goodrich, deputy national litigation director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The Becket Fund was co-counsel for two pharmacists who believe that life begins at the fertilization of a human egg, and can be destroyed by the pills.

Many advocates for women’s health had applauded the state’s Board of Pharmacy rule of as a way to guarantee greater access to the drugs within the short time frame — between three and five days after intercourse — when they are effective. When taken soon after unprotected sexual intercourse, the drugs (known as Plan B and ella) are between 75 to 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

The decision comes in the midst of a firestorm over the Obama administration’s Jan. 20 decision to require nearly all employers to cover free birth control through their insurance plans. That decision has outraged religious conservatives who consider it a directive to ignore their religious convictions.

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  • Theophile

    @Biff777 & David6,

    Do You think retailers should be forced to carry certain items by law? Or be required to carry all the competing brands? (If so WalMart is out). If your store sells “some” magazines, like most grocery stores, should your store be required to sell smut mags too? If Your local medical center/hoispital doesn’t have every latest piece of equipment, should they be required by law to obtain them? Should Your local pharmacy be forced to carry medical marijuana too?….No, and if one phamacy doesn’t carry your pill, another down the street will, this is still America.

  • PaulSpence

    What an appalling ruling. If one wants to go into a profession and then deny people a legal product one should really consider another profession (perhaps become a Republican politician). This is not religious freedom being trampled, this is the rights of women being trampled. The federal court should look to the UK for guidance where the courts there recognize that religion does no trump other people’s rights.

  • plattitudes

    I’m sorry, your argument holds no water. By not choosing to carry a drug, a pharmacy is not “denying people a legal product.” No women’s rights are being trampled here, because even if one pharmacy opts not to carry it, there’s likely a CVS or Walgreens (or one of each) on the next corner down the street.

    You claim no religion should have the ability to trump anothers rights, and then insist that ‘no religion’ (atheism) should be able to force others to violate their consciences. Inconsistent.