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AMERIKKKA UBER ALLES.
Washington Considering 'Pharmacist Refusal' Proposal
March 12, 2006
By Molly Shen
SEATTLE - Getting a prescription filled is pretty straight-forward. Take the doctor's slip into the pharmacy and get the medication.
But some pharmacists are stepping up and saying they won't fill prescriptions on moral grounds.
The debate centers around the so-called morning after pill, or Plan B.
It's emergency contraception meant to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
Pharmacists who object to Plan B want to be able to deny filling a prescription on moral, ethical or religious beliefs.
"Pharmacists have to have a right to exercise their conscience in these morally troubling situations. I believe it's a right we get as being citizens of the United States," says Bellevue pharmacist C.J. Kahler.
It's a national debate that's playing out in our state as the state pharmacy board considers a measure to protect pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions.
Opponents say the measure would let a pharmacist's rights trump the patient's.
"They are really elevating their interests, their personal interests above the needs of the patient," says Nancy Sapiro with the Northwest Women's Law Center. "The regulations that govern pharmacists are very clear that patients' interests come first."
Governor Christine Gregoire sent the board a letter opposing the proposal.
"When an individual goes in, they ought to be allowed to have their prescription filled and a pharmacist should not deny them on personal grounds," says Gregoire. "So if they can't do it, an alternative pharmacist needs to be able to do it at that particular location."
That's not always possible in rural towns where there's only one pharmacist.
But supporters insist there are ways to protect the rights of patients and pharmacists at the same time.
"We're not saying, 'don't go anywhere.' We're saying, 'You have a right but we're not willing to fill that prescription. Here's where you can go,' " says Kahler.
The debate over Plan B is in the early stages.
The state pharmacy board says it could be a year before rules are in place.
If you would like to share your opinion with the pharmacy board, you can send it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll then be on the state's "interested party" list and will be notified of public hearings on the issue.
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