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Pharmacy Board Says Pharmacists Have Right To Refuse Morning-After Pill

The state Board of Pharmacy has voted to allow pharmacists to decline to sell morning-after emergency contraceptive in Washington//. But the governor, some lawmakers and women's rights organizations are furious with this decision.

Rod Shafer, executive director of the Washington State Pharmacy Association had said earlier this year that pharmacists should have the right to decline to dispense medicine that they felt was contrary to their beliefs. 'We are not dispensing machines,' Shafer said. 'We are professionals who have as many rights as anybody else.'

C.J. Kahler, past president of the association felt that the rule will respect both the patients as well as drug providers, 'The patient needs to get the medication they need; the pharmacist needs to be able to practice within their conscience limits. This allows both,' he said.

The Washington Alliance for Reproductive Choice said that it was shocked by this decision, 'We were shocked that the Pharmacy Board is ignoring their responsibility to protect patients,' said Lauren Trent, chairwoman of the organization. 'Patients have the right to expect that when they go to their pharmacy with a valid, medically appropriate prescription, they will walk out of that pharmacy with the medication they need, and they won't be lectured about it.'

Gov. Christine Gregoire has written a letter to Dr. Asaad Awan, chairman of the Pharmacy Board saying that this policy was not right, 'The rules under consideration are unacceptable and fail to protect Washington families from pharmacists who refuse to dispense lawful prescriptions; no one should be denied appropriate prescription drugs based on the personal, religious or moral objection of individual pharmacists.'


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