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.”


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