Plan B Controversy Continues in Washington
Since its release, the Plan B emergency contraception pill has created controversy among pharmacists. For some pharmacists, religious beliefs about this form of contraception conflict with the requirements that they make the pill available to anyone with a prescription. In 2007, the Washington State Pharmacy Board issued a ruling that required all pharmacies to dispense the pill. Under the ruling, if a pharmacist has a religious objection another pharmacy employee is required to fill the prescription. Since the ruling several pharmacists filed suit to protest having to stock Plan B.
For three years, the pharmacy board has been attempting to negotiate a settlement between the two sides to avoid a lengthy legal case. The spokesperson for the Washington State Board of Health recently reported that in August the board voted to spend approximately one year collecting information and public testimony in an effort to find a solution that will satisfy both sides.
One proposal suggests asking objecting pharmacists to refer patients to pharmacies that will fill the prescription. The goal is to get the highest possible level of availability for patients without punishing pharmacists who have moral objections to the pill.