Emergency Contraception - Pharmacists' rights suffer a setback

On July 8, a federal appeals court ruled that pharmacists are required to dispense emergency contraception, even if they are personally opposed on religious grounds. The case involves Ralph's Thriftway and two pharmacists who sued Washington state officials where the law requires pharmacists to dispense despite their beliefs. An injunction, just vacated (ended) by the federal court, had been issued earlier by a lower court that allowed the pharmacists to refuse to dispense as long as they referred consumers to a nearby pharmacy where it was available.

APhA policy supports a pharmacist's right to refuse to dispense if a referral is given. We side with the pharmacists involved and hope they ultimately prevail in retaining their rights. Other related objections to the state's law are pending.