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Washington state, facing lawsuit, agrees to protect pharmacists' conscience rights

July 08, 2010

The state of Washington has agreed to adopt conscience-protection policies for pharmacists who find it morally repugnant to fill prescriptions for abortifacient pills.

In a lawsuit filed by pharmacists with the support of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attorneys representing the state said that the government would alter its rules to protect conscience rights. The move allowed the state to avoid a trial in the case scheduled to begin later this month.

In 2006, the state Board of Pharmacy—under heavy pressure from Governor Christine Gregoire (who is Catholic)—set regulations requiring all pharmacists to provide the “morning after” pill, regardless of the pharmacists’ own moral objections. Two individual pharmacists and one family-owned firm joined in a lawsuit against that regulation. The plaintiffs have now agreed to postpone consideration of their case until the state’s new policies are unveiled. If the conscience-protection policy is adequate, the case would presumably be dropped.


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