Judge to rule on Wash. pharmacies selling Plan B

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A federal judge is set to rule on whether Washington state can require pharmacies to stock and sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives.

Washington requires pharmacies to sell any drug that’s in demand. Plan B, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex, is kept behind the counter but is available without a prescription to anyone over 17.

Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, Wash., and two licensed pharmacists sued in 2007, saying that dispensing Plan B would infringe on their religious beliefs because it can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The state argues that the rule is constitutional because it applies to all drugs and promotes the timely delivery of medicine, including Plan B, which becomes less effective as time passes. Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma says he will issue his ruling Wednesday.