Pharmacists in Washington state who disagree with emergency contraception on religious grounds can no longer be required to dispense it, a federal judge ruled yesterday. The judge declared the state's regulation unconstitutional, noting that pharmacies in the state are allowed to not stock drugs for various secular reasons—for instance, not stocking Oxycodone over fears of robbery—and should be allowed similar refusals for reasons of "conscientious objection."
The suit to block the regulation was brought by a drugstore owner and two of his pharmacists, all of whom consider emergency contraceptives equivalent to abortion and thus refuse to stock it. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had no immediate comment, had pushed for the regulation requiring pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception, Reuters notes. An Illinois state judge struck down a similar law in that state last spring.