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Federal Injunction Allows Washington State Pharmacists to Refuse to Dispense EC

A federal judge last week issued a preliminary injunction against a Washington state rule that requires pharmacies to provide emergency contraceptives like the morning after pill. US District Judge Ronald Leighton said pharmacists can refuse to sell emergency contraceptives if they immediately refer the customer to another nearby source.

Under Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state legislature passed the rule barring pharmacists from obstructing access to emergency contraceptives. Two pharmacists and a drugstore owner sued the state in July over the new rule, claiming it violates their civil rights. The injunction halts required sales of emergency contraceptives during the course of the lawsuit.

The Plan B pill can dramatically lower the risk of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Women’s and civil rights groups argue against the so called “refuse and refer” system because women who seek emergency contraception must get the pills as quickly as possible for them to be effective.

Sources:

Associated Press 11/9/07; Daily Women�s Health Policy Report 11/9/07