Judge considers if pharmacies must sell Plan B

By

Published:

 

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

Closing arguments are underway at U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Ralph's Thriftway in Olympia and two licensed Washington pharmacists brought the lawsuit, saying that dispensing the drug would infringe on their religious beliefs because it can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. They say they can easily refer customers to nearby pharmacies that are willing to sell the drug. Lawyer Kristen Waggoner calls the rule "repugnant to the Constitution."

The Washington Board of Pharmacy requires pharmacies to dispense any medication for which there is a community need. The state says the rule is legal because it applies neutrally to all medicines and pharmacies and promotes an important government interest, the timely delivery of medications.