A Bitter Pill; Pharmacists Fight for Conscience Exemptions

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Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A court in Washington is poised to decide whether pharmacists should be forced to violate their religious beliefs at the command of the state or go out of business. Wednesday's closing arguments in Stormans v. Selecky wrangled over whether pharmacists should be compelled to stock and dispense morning-after drugs. The ruling will signal whether America is still a land that supports individual liberty and freedom of conscience.

In 2006, Washington's State Board of Pharmacy unanimously agreed that pharmacists with religious objections to providing emergency contraceptives/abortifacients like Plan B or ella could refer patients to nearby suppliers. However, leftist Gov. Christine Gregoire intervened. Promising to help the board come to the right answer after their mistake, she replaced several members with local Planned Parenthood and NARAL leaders. Unsurprisingly, the board subsequently decided that pharmacies in the Evergreen State must stock and dispense Plan B and ella regardless of whether compliance translated to forcing unwilling pharmacists to be complicit - in their view - in ending human life.

In seeking state mandates, activists are trying to create a special category for religious objections to these drugs among the more than 6,000 FDA-approved medications. They are ignoring the fact that pharmacies are businesses. Decisions for inventory are based on the needs of the local population, which a pharmacist with medical training understands better than a bureaucrat. As anyone who has ever had to order a drug or take a referral can attest, not every pharmacy stocks every drug. Cost is another factor. Drugs are really expensive, said Brian Gallagher, senior vice president of government affairs for the American Pharmacists Association. One of the costs is inventory, carrying costs. If there's not a lot of demand for something, it costs money. …