Beliefs vs. Duty - Pharmacists in Washington Can Legally Refuse to Provide Contraception To Women

Here's another gouge in the crumbling foundation of women's rights.  As an RN, I personally am appalled that any healthcare provider could think that their personal religious beliefs trump their sworn duty to provide unbiased care.  If these pharmacists can refuse to provide legally prescribed medication based solely on their religious "conscience",  what's to stop doctors and nurses from refusing patients because they don't approve of that patient's lifestyle or choices?  What if I were to say, "Nope - get this guy out of here - I'm tired of patching up these gangbangers who shoot each other." Or "No way am I risking HIV infection by caring for this addict.  I don't approve of drug abuse, it was his choice to OD on heroin, so I'm not going to tacitly condone his behavior by helping him."  How long would I last as a nurse?  I took an oath to set my personal feelings aside in order to help ALL people.  If I can't do that then I should be looking for another job.  Why be a pharmacist if you object to certain commonly prescribed medications?

Also, I can't help but notice that these same pharmacists stock condoms and won't make apeep when a man buys them.  Condoms basically do the same thing birth control pills and Plan B do - they prevent fertilization.  So why are condoms kosher but the pills are an agent of the baby-murdering heathens?  And some of the commenters on this news don't think there's a war on women.

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The ruling seems to apply only to the one pharmacy and two pharmacists who are plaintiffs in the case, rather than to all providers in Washington State, according to Cienna Madrid's article at, "Pharmacy Can Refuse Women Emergency Contraceptives, Judge Rules". (That looks plausible to me, looking at the injunction linked to from the article, but I Am Not A Lawyer.)

What this means is that it could be up to Attorney General (and gubernatorial hopeful) Rob McKenna to interpret how Judge Leighton's decision affects every other pharmacy in the state. "That's how I interpreted the ruling," says Stone. "The AG's office will certainly be reading the opinion very carefully."

In the meantime, the state can choose to enforce the Board of Pharmacy's rules with other pharmacies that elect not to carry Plan B or other medications....

(Emphases in the original)


As for pharmacists being willing to sell condoms...

Applying Judge Leighton's decision universally to all pharmacies and pharmacists would give more pharmacies and nosy, self-righteous pharmacists carte blanche to insert their religious edicts into the private lives of Washington women. It would especially affect those living in Washington's rural areas who need access to time-sensitive contraceptives. And of course, the decision could be used to lube up the slippery slope of religious objections, where one can imagine crucifix-waving pharmacists objecting to selling women oral contraceptives, or even condoms out of wedlock.

This particular ruling might have a limited scope, but it's a dangerous precedent.  I might be accused of applying the slippery slope logical fallacy here, but it's my understanding that rulings such as this are used to win future cases and gain ground for more sweeping legislation, including constitutional amendments.  Every one of these rulings in favor of religion should be taken as a serious threat to basic human rights in this country.

Also at issue is the overwhelming array of legislature targeting women - and ONLY women.  Male birth control and sexual enhancement aids such as Viagra are never targeted for moral outrage - only women's sexual and reproductive status seems to concern these people.  These rulings further the perception of women as non-persons with only one function, or as evil seductresses who bring all their woes upon themselves and whose sexual appetites and reproductive capacity must be externally controlled at all costs.  They demean women by implying that someones personal feelings and beliefs are more important than a woman's health, safety, and even her life.




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