Pharmacists can refer Plan B, says Washington judge

The battleground of primacy of conscience has shifted to Washington state this week. A federal judge there has suspended the state's requirement that pharmacists sell the morning-after pill, moral objections notwithstanding. Regulators ruled earlier this year that no pharmacist could refuse to supply the drug. This was challenged by some pharmacists who claimed that this violated their civil rights.

In the US, the morning-after pill, marketed by Barr Pharmaceuticals as Plan B, can now be sold over the counter to anyone over 18. US District Judge Ronald Leighton settled for a compromise: pharmacists can refuse if they refer a customer to a nearby supplier. State Senator Karen Keiser said that the judge's ruling was "unconscionable": "The fact is that the citizens of the state of Washington have a right to legal drugs."

"We believe strongly that forcing someone to choose between their religious beliefs and actually losing their business or their career is unconstitutional," responds the pharmacists' lawyer. "And the court agreed, so we're going to continue pursuing the claim."

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