In a split decision last week, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals denied requests from state officials, women’s and civil rights groups to block a preliminary injunction allowing pharmacists in Washington to continue to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception while they appeal the decision. The injunction suspended a state Board of Pharmacy rule that established a duty for pharmacies to fill prescriptions for EC and other prescriptions.
Two pharmacists and a pharmacy owner filed a lawsuit against the rules last July, claiming that requiring pharmacies to dispense EC is a violation of civil rights. Under the injunction, pharmacists and pharmacies can continue to refuse to sell EC because of so-called “religious objections.” Some pharmacists still refer to EC as an “abortive agent” even though research shows it will not affect a woman who is already pregnant.
The court did grant the motion to speed up the appellate proceedings; oral arguments will be heard June 3 in Seattle, reports Reuters.