Appeals court says pharmacists can’t refuse to dispense Plan B

Damn straight! On Wednesday, an appeals court ruled that despite two Washington pharmacists’ lawsuit saying that their religious beliefs should allow them to refuse to stock and provide emergency contraception to their customers, personal convictions doesn’t trump a patient’s right to timely medication.
This decision is huge as it could affect policy across the Western U.S. regarding the “right to conscience” nonsense that has been gaining momentum over the past few years, particularly with the help of Bush implementing the anti-choice HHS regulations before he left office (which we’re still waiting for Obama to rescind like he intended). But this ruling creates a precedent for future cases around the issue.
While the pharmacists won a temporary injunction by the U.S. District Court in Seattle under their claim that they should be protected under the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wasn’t having it. They lifted the injunction, saying that a person’s religious beliefs “does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability”:

“Any refusal to dispense — regardless of whether it is motivated by religion, morals, conscience, ethics, discriminatory prejudices, or personal distaste for a patient — violates the rules.”

Booya.

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123 Comments

  1. kahri
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Awesome. This is so important, thanks for this post!

  2. common_reaction
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Hollerrr. Total awesomeness. =]

  3. Alessa
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I’m ashamed that these people come from my home town. Most Seattle natives are way cooler than these pharmacists, I promise!
    Woohoo! This is great news.

  4. LalaReina
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    This is good your personal beliefs are fine but they have to stop at the front door of the pharmacy.

  5. Lance
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    For those interested, full opinion is here: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/07/08/07-36039.pdf
    The good stuff starts on page 30.

  6. llevinso
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Very very good news! :)

  7. LindseyLou
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Don’t be ashamed! You should be bursting with pride over the decision by the Evergreen State’s Board of Pharmacy to pass that regulation in the first place. That’s the real victory here, because this Ninth Circuit ruling is not all that helpful in a situation where the plaintiff/defendant labels are switched.
    This makes me so excited to move to Western Washington in two months! My own state just tried to pass legislation explicitly allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense.

  8. Pencils
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    This is great news. It’s not about the pharmacist’s rights, it’s about these pharmacists thinking they can deny others’ rights. Which they shouldn’t be able to. It’s an easy enough situation: if you don’t want to dispense Plan B, there’s an easy enough solution, don’t become a pharmacist.

  9. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I might be misunderstanding, but it sounds like this ruling applies to pharmacies, not individual pharmacists? Noteably pages 44-45 of the opinion.

  10. allegra
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Woo. This just made my day. :o )
    Especially since last night I went into Planned Parenthood for my pill prescription and some cop randomly pulled into the parking lot facing the door and was gawking at people coming in and out. We do have occasional protesters, but I still get annoyed and suspicious of such things.

  11. oswid_
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    With all these obligations to stock and provide emergency contraception to their customers… What does prevent them from setting $1,000 price for each emergency contraception? It is very unlikely they will be “forced” to sell it.

  12. Lance
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    This is not my field, but I believe you’re correct. We’ll see how it shakes out, but so long as pharmacies are on the hook for making sure the Plan B is available at all times when the pharmacy is open, I’m not seeing the problem. I don’t think anybody is particularly interested in forcing a particular employee to be the one to sell it, so long as SOMEBODY in the pharmacy will sell it.
    {Media coverage of legal issues is almost universally terrible. Every time I read a news story that casually mentions that it’s “impossible” to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, I die a little inside.}

  13. Lance
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Your broad point that this is hardly the end, just the opening salvo of new battles, is well taken. However:
    A) They would be buying a lawsuit.
    B) I am no expert in administrative law, let alone Washington State administrative law, but the Washington State Board of Pharmacy (who issued the regulations at issue in the litigation) may have the power to issue regulations preventing those sorts of shenanigans.
    C) Pharmacies really, really don’t want to flirt with losing their licenses. What you’re proposing would put them at risk for just that.

  14. oswid_
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    We’ll see. I am pro-choice and at the same time believe that goverment shouldn’t dictate shops what should they sell (and for what price).

  15. starryeyed.kid21
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I was going to say the thing.
    How do two doctors like that work in the PNW? I know most of Washington is pretty conservative, but the article says ‘Seattle.’
    Seattle?! Really?
    So strange.
    But hooray for our board.

  16. Darkmoon
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    It amazes me that these people have been getting away with putting women’s health at risk. Pregnancy prevention is an important part of feminine health for many people, myself included. By denying or delaying the dispensing of EC, all these pharmacists are doing is putting women at risk of becoming pregnant in the first place. Their actions help contribute to the abortion rate, if anything.

  17. cattrack2
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m disappointed in this ruling. Its a set back for everyone’s rights. There’s a reason Freedom of Speech & Religion is the FIRST Amendment. Everyone should be free to practice their religion or atheism as they individually see fit. No consumer has a RIGHT to demand a service or product from a business or organization. Using this rationale we could draft a law that requires Pharmacies post links & information about crisis pregnancy centers, or misinformation about abortion.
    While I understand that some women have difficulty finding Plan B in what can be a stressful & tight time window, their rights don’t trump pharmacists; they’re equal to pharmacists. Women should have an unfettered right to purchase Plan B, but pharmacists deserve an unfettered right to decline selling it. For those who genuinely (if incorrectly) view Plan B as an abortifacient this is forcing them to conduct an abortion. You can’t FORCE people to violate their consciences. This is as wrong as requiring abortion doctors to read a bunch of misinformation from the state about the risk of abortion.
    This is deeply concerning. I can’t wait for SCOTUS to overturn this.

  18. Lance
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I am inclined to agree– if things were my way, you could get Plan B, pot, and vicodin from a vending machine or a corner store. However, recognizing that such deregulation isn’t going to come any time soon (if ever), sensible regulation is the next best thing. I’ll stop before I pound out a ten paragraph essay on why the whole getting-Plan-B-approved fiasco is a great feminist argument for getting the government out of the business of drug gatekeeping…

  19. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Question: Did you even read the opinion? The court cites many USSC cases that firmly set the precedent.
    Underlying the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence is the principle that the Free Exercise Clause “embraces two concepts[ ] —freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute
    but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society.” Cantwell, 310 U.S. at 303-04.

    The Supreme Court continued to uphold the constitutionality of such “general law[s] not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs.”
    Although the Court confirmed that the government may not regulate religious beliefs, it stated that it has “never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.”
    They used very sound reasoning and followed the standard that the USSC set out in previous cases.

  20. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The Washington State Board of Pharmacy and analogous boards in other states exist for the sole purpose of making those sorts of decisions, though. This court opinion wasn’t made in response to just any company deciding not to sell something, but a pharmacy going against its governing organization’s rules.

  21. Lance
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    … yeah, no. Read the opinion, and the above thread about pharmacies vs. pharmacists.

  22. LindseyLou
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Pharmacists’ personal rights are equal to everyone else’s, but I don’t think personal beliefs should interfere with a professional responsibility. If a person can’t square dispensing contaceptions with his or her moral beliefs, THEN DON’T BECOME A PHARMACIST! This is so ridiculous! They’re only “forced” to dispense because that’s the job they chose! It’s like becoming an executioner and then seeking an injunction against the state’s death penalty law on account of your religious views.
    Also, I think alixanna is spot on. This ruling is in line with precedent. SCOTUS will not even grant certiori, I’ll wager.

  23. jane
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    If I were a pharmacist I would have difficulty selling addictive drugs because I see addiction as dangerous and pervasive. I therefore understand that pharmacy may not a good choice of career for me.
    As an atheist, I would not try to become a pastor because I would be unable and unwilling to sell some of the product line. I don’t try to tell the church that I should be allowed to work for them.

  24. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    For anyone who wants to pass judgment without actually reading the opinion, I extract from it the rule that is at issue:
    The first rule, an amendment to Washington Administrative Code section 246-863-095, governs pharmacists. Under this rule, a pharmacist may be subject to professional discipline for destroying or refusing to return an unfilled lawful prescription, violating a patient’s privacy, or unlawfully discriminating against, or intimidating or harassing a patient. The rule, however, does not require an individual pharmacist to dispense medication in the face of a personal objection.
    The second rule, Washington Administrative Code section 246-869-010, governs pharmacies. It requires pharmacies “to deliver lawfully prescribed drugs or devices to patients and to distribute drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for restricted distribution by pharmacies . . . in a timely manner consistent with reasonable expectations for filling the prescription.” A pharmacy may substitute a “therapeutically equivalent drug” or provide a “timely alternative for appropriate therapy,” but apart from certain necessary exceptions,5 a pharmacy is prohibited from refusing to deliver a lawfully prescribed or approved medicine. A pharmacy is also prohibited from destroying or refusing to return an unfilled lawful prescription, violating a patient’s privacy, or unlawfully discriminating against, or intimidating or harassing a patient.
    In the Concise Explanatory Statement accompanying the regulations, the Board noted that it created a right of refusal for individual pharmacists by allowing a pharmacy to “accommodate” a pharmacist who has a religious or moral objection. A pharmacy may not refer a patient to another pharmacy to avoid filling a prescription because the pharmacy has a duty to deliver lawfully prescribed medications in a timely manner. A pharmacy may accommodate a pharmacist’s personal objections in any way the pharmacy deems suitable, including having another pharmacist available in person or by telephone.

    In short, the court decided that this rule is A) neutral (“[I]f the object of a law is to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation, the law is not neutral.” Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 533.) and B) generally applicable (A law is not generally applicable when the government, “in a selective manner[,] impose[s] burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief.” Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 543.), which means that it should only evaluated with a “rational basis” review, not a “strict scrutiny” review, which is what the district court used. The court decided that, “The record before us does not suggest that Appellees have negated every conceivable basis supporting the new rules, so it appears that the new rules are rationally related to Washington’s legitimate interest in ensuring that its citizen-patients receive lawfully prescribed medications without delay.

  25. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Whoops, looks like my italics cut off early, but the 2nd three paragraphs should all be in italics as I’m quoting the opinion’s explanation of what the Washinton rule is.

  26. LindseyLou
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for pointing that out. How do you (anyone) think this affects mom and pop pharmacies where the pharmacist is the sole proprietor? I may be thinking superficially, but it seems that in those situations the pharmacy’s obligation becomes the pharmacist’s obligation.

  27. Katie
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    This is such great news! Seriously, this made my day. Thanks for posting!

  28. cattrack2
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read the opinion in its entirety. I don’t think the issue is as cut & dried as presented & I’ll note that the 9th Circuit is routinely overturned by SCOTUS. While that normally dismays me, I’m looking forward to it this time.
    If, as the Court reasons, laws can trump religious practice, it seems that in those cases where it does so, “strict scrutiny” should apply, and laws should be both 1) absolutely compelling; and 2)narrowly tailored to achieve the ends.
    I’m worried about the trend in society of inventing rights & then forcing everyone else to support them. Though I despise ‘consience clauses’, this is the type of shoot first, think later action that will give new impetus to the very conscience clauses BO threw out. Geez, I hardly recognize anymore what it means to be a liberal. This ruling is the very anti-thesis of a free country & smacks of the crap the Radical Right usually trots out.

  29. voluptuouspanic
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    “No consumer has a RIGHT to demand a service or product from a business or organization.”
    That doesn’t apply to healthcare whatsoever. If we didn’t have the right to demand things of healthcare providers, no one would ever be forced to provide care for patients in emergency situations.
    There should be exemptions for religious beliefs, but not for things you can choose. Your job, you can choose. Going out in public, you cannot.

  30. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    And as I quoted below, strict scrutiny doesn’t apply if the law is generally applicable and neutral. See: Employment Division v. Smith. Even though Smith used peyote for religious reasons, the law at issue in that case applied to everyone for every purpose of peyote use. Which is similar here to the Washington pharmacy rule that applies to all pharmacies for any reason – not just religious reasons.
    Your initial assertion that we are all free to practice our religion individually without any restriction is very incorrect. As for your idea that we’re creating rights and forcing people to support them, the Washington rule ALREADY allows for reasonable accomodations for any individual pharmacist as long as the pharmacy is ultimately responsible for allowing access to a prescription!

  31. Siby
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    If they don’t want to give people Plan B, then they shouldn’t be a pharmacist. I doubt you’d be saying this if we were talking about cops who just didn’t want to help people in danger, or teachers who just didn’t want to teach. Or even doctors who refused to help people in critical conditions.
    My point- if you don’t want to do your damn job, DON’T DO IT.

  32. Jut Gory
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I refrained commenting on vanessa’s recent blog:
    http://www.feministing.com/archives/016544.html
    This involves the women-run (and women only) pharmacy in Canada. I hope everyone who supports the decision of the Court in the Plan B case will realize that this line of reasoning could effectively prevent a women-only pharmacy.
    My view: I am not particularly bothered by a pharmacy that caters just to women (or just to men); and, I am not bothered by pharmacists who refuse to dispense medication based upon conscience. In that regard, I expect that I am of a similar mind as cattrack2.
    However, if the rationale of the commenters is that one should not become a pharmacist if one does not want dispense legal medication, a women-only pharmacy is going to have to fill prescriptions for medicine needed by men. And, then, there won’t be women-only pharmacies.
    Watch out what you wish for.
    -Jut

  33. alixana
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Specifically about this pharmacy: since they’re also banning trans women and sex workers, I’m having a hard time caring. Also, they are in Canada and not affected by any US ruling.
    In the abstract, I’m not sure what the legalities of women-only pharmacies in the US are in the first place. It might be possible that state pharmacy board regulations would already prevent that. If a pharmacy wanted to advertise themselves as a pharmacy that caters to women without banning men (such as a gay bar caters to gay patrons without banning heterosexual patrons), that’s fine. Banning anyone strikes me as unnecessary. I’m sure that men wouldn’t be tripping over themselves to go to the women’s pharmacy instead of CVS.

  34. Alice
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Who the hell are any of you to decide what is and is not a “pharmacist’s job?” Are you paying their salary? Did the capital to build the pharmacy they work in come from your savings account? The only people entitled to define what a person’s job is are the employee and employer, often enough the same person in the case of medical specialists.
    Anyway, I suppose the truly principled thing to do in this situation from the perspective of the pharmacists would be to close shop or quit, even though it would mean throwing away years of schooling and investment, and see how well a person’s sense of entitlement can provide for their medical needs without access to any proscription medication whatsoever. The fact that they will most likely just start selling Plan B, I think, shows how deep their alleged convictions actually go.

  35. cattrack2
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the cites Alixana. I think that “strict scrutiny” will become the issue. For what its worth I opposed the peyote ruling as well, but I think with the addition of Roberts & Alito, SCOTUS could very well trim the scope of that decision if only for this: There is a world of difference in PREVENTING someone from consuming an illicit drug & in FORCING them to sell one violating their conscience. While precedent says that religious beliefs can’t be curtailed but religious exercise can be, its worthwhile to note that the 1st Amendment doesn’t mention religious beliefs, it mentions only “religious exercise”.

  36. cattrack2
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Really, your job you can choose? How–after spending tens of thousands of dollars & many years in school & on the job–would you like to get fired from your job in this recession? That’s a false choice and you know it. If you read the decision that’s precisely the spot that two pharmacists are in.
    This is a ridiculous assertion. Its as ridiculous as when the religious right tries & make abortion doctors tell women that abortion leads to breast cancer, depression & suicide. Using your reasoning that’s entirely ok. You don’t want to tell women that? Well don’t be a doctor! There’s a statute bouncing around the Oklahoma legislature that would require teachers carry guns (to prevent school massacres). How about we tell teachers who don’t want to comply, well then go work at Taco Bell. Principles of liberty protect us all.
    This is just craziness.

  37. Siby
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Uh, they’re the ones who CHOSE to spend the money so that they could become a pharmacist. They should know what kind of job they’re getting into in the first place, and if they don’t want to do it because of moral reasons.. Well then they shouldn’t do it.
    pharmacist-
    –noun
    a person licensed to prepare and dispense drugs and medicines; druggist; apothecary; pharmaceutical chemist.
    That’s their job, and that’s a fact. If they don’t want to do their job, then they shouldn’t become a pharmacist. It’s common sense. It’d be like me practicing 6 hours a day on the violin, and then when it comes to the performance, suddenly backing down and saying “y’know what? I don’t want to perform. Screw the audience”. It doesn’t matter what kind of reasons they give for denying health care, they chose to do that job so they either have to do it, or they back down.
    It’s not an abortion providers job to lie to women. It’s their job to provide abortions (and other services, of course). A pharmacist refusing to give people medicine because of their moral reasons is like an abortion provider who refuses to provide abortions because they’re pro-life. It’s just ridiculous.
    It’s NOT a teacher’s job to carry around a gun. It’s their job to teach students. If a teacher suddenly said “I don’t feel like teaching anymore, so screw all of you students” they’d (hopefully) be fired.
    How would you feel if a cop refused to help someone who was in a very dangerous situation because the victim happens to be black? Maybe the cop feels as if she or he has a good, “moral”, reason to deny services to this person.. But does that make it right? Of course not, that cop obviously doesn’t want to do his or her job, so they should either quit or be fired.

  38. MzBitca
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    This is the deal. You have a right to your religious beliefs. YOu also have a right to express your religious beliefs. You do NOT have the write to express your religious beliefs in a way forces others to suffer consequences.
    Per Example: A pharmacist has every right to not like Plan B. Every pharmacists has theright to not take plan b. A pharmacist does not have the right to deny someone else who DOES NOT HOLD the same religious beliefs something that is medically necessary.
    We have freedom to express our religion and practice or religion, we do not have freedom to ENFORCE our religion on someone else. As long as Plan B is legal people have every legal and medical right to. Someone’s religion does not trump a person’s legal right to medication.
    IF a christian scientist worked for a pharmacy and refused to dispense medication it would not be allowed. Just because these pharamacies are picking and choosing certain meds don’t make them any different. They are still denying what a pharmacy and pharmacist should offer to be able to run.

  39. MzBitca
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    this is the deal though. Pharmacist and pharmacies are under strict control. They have certain licenses. A person that opens a restaurant has to comply with health codes. They cannot operate a restaurant any way they want to just because they put the money in. They can serve what they want as long as it’s legal and choose to decroate but if comes down to someone’s health they have to follow strict guidelines.
    Pharamacists must be licensd and follow certain laws to operate. THey cannot morally choose whatever drugs they don’t like. It’s not their decision. They are a vehicle to provide the perscriptions not the ones that decide which ones are “appropriate”

  40. oswid_
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    > Washington State Board of Pharmacy…
    Am I able to set up a shop and sell Plan-B contraception and other stuff? Without joining this Board? If not then why?

  41. kissmypineapple
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Actually, there are professional boards and organizations which define what the profession is. I don’t get to say, “My job is that of a victim advocate, but I define that as someone who does not help certain victims because I don’t like it.” Wrong. My job title comes with a job description, and if I don’t like it, then I need a different job.
    Also, in response to the idea that it would be throwing tons of money away to stop being a pharmacist: they knew they would be dispensing drugs when they went to pharmacy school, so I fail to see how this is a huge burden or surprise all of the sudden.

  42. smiley
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Siby,
    You make some good points: no one forces anyone to become a pharmacist. So get on with your job (to paraphrase you).
    Just out of interest, would you also take that stance if a pizzeria asked its waiting staff to wear, let’s say, ‘revealing clothing’? Maybe miniskirts and low-cut t-shirts.
    Would you say to someone who protested ‘Hey, if you don’t want to wear our uniform, change jobs’?
    (Actually, I’m not sure what to think about the decision.)

  43. oswid_
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Yep. And this decision is just another regulation trying to patch existing one.

  44. Siby
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good question. Although I may be upset with waitresses having to choose between having to change jobs, or having to wear potentially objectifying clothing, I don’t think that the pizzeria should be forced to change its dress code. For example, I hate Playboy and I believe that it objectifies women, but I still support its right to exist.
    However, it can also be said that the job of the waitress is to serve food and to wait on the customers, not to wear “skimpy” clothing (just as it’s the teacher’s job to teach, not to carry guns). I think that, for that reason, protesting against the dress code makes a lot more sense than protesting against the fact that pharmacists have to hand out certain drugs, even though they may not like/agree with the drug.
    With that being said, a pizzeria having a bad dress code and pharmacists who refuse to hand out certain medications are two totally different issues.

  45. UnHingedHips
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    “For those who genuinely (if incorrectly) view Plan B as an abortifacient this is forcing them to conduct an abortion. ”
    No, not really.
    If they were putting the medication in an IV, or forcing the patient to swallow it, then I would agree with you. But they’re not.

  46. UnHingedHips
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    This.
    “The only people entitled to define what a person’s job is are the employee and employer” is just
    patently false. Any member of a profession that is subject to licensure has a whole host of requirements and a clearly spelled out scope of practice that clarifies exactly what their job is.

  47. smiley
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Siby,
    I can meet you part of the way on that: the job is to dispense medication or pizzas, not to run a fashion show.
    I am still undecided on the issue.
    There was a case recently in England, where a town employee refused to handle applications for civil unions (I think that’s the term) – i.e. gay marriages. She refused on religious grounds.
    She was sacked, I think. She appealed. I first thought it was a little harsh to sack her – I thought it should have been possible to find her alternative tasks – but the ruling said that the town employee had a duty to serve everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds, etc. She basically had to apply the law, and should not be allowed to choose which laws she would implement and which ones she would not.
    I found the argument elegant. And under that light, I must say that I agreed with the final decision. Does that help me in this pharmacists’ case? Maybe, but I still have to be convinced that a private enterprise – a pharmacy – is no different from a townhall.
    Still thinking about Seattle!

  48. Alice
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Licensing and all the other things you mention are just more of the exact sort of thing I’m arguing against. It is also actually true that there exist restrictions on abortion. By your reasoning, this fact means that further restriction is desirable or at least tolerable, when in fact it is just another form of illegitimate state intervention into people’s lives that should be stopped.
    Do you not realize that the reason pharmacists are in such positions of power in regards to consumption of medication in the first place is because of the regulations you’re talking about? I doubt that access to Plan B would ever have been an issue in the first place if access to drugs were not so artificially restricted.

  49. Mama Mia
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    The pharmacists that sued are actually from Olympia, not Seattle, so there you go.

  50. Mama Mia
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    The Pharmacy Board is a division of the Washington State Health Department which regulates and licenses all health professionals in the state, including pharmacists. Pharmacies are a licensed and regulated industry, and therefore, no, you may not set up shop without going through them. Just as you may not set up a hospital without going through the board of health. It is a government agency and not a union, and their job is protect the citizens of the state of Washington.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/professions/Pharmacy/boardinfo.htm

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