We start this week with some good news on what has become a rather unexpected front for good news of late: reproductive rights.
The state of Washington has rules which state that an individual pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for religious reasons so long as another pharmacist working at the same pharmacy provides timely delivery. The rules also say that a pharmacy, that is, the business, cannot refuse to fill a prescription even if the owner objects.
A suit arose involving a pharmacy known as Ralph's Thriftway. What was involved was the pharmacy's refusal to fill a prescription for a morning-after pill, an area where "timely" delivery of a filled prescription is particularly important.
The case resulted in the state trial court finding that the rules were an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights, meaning that not only individual pharmacists but the entire corporation could, without any consequences to itself, refuse to fill lawfully-issued prescriptions which it didn't like.
The good news here is that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned that decision, finding that the state's rules are constitutional. They do not, the court found, overly burden religious belief but they do rationally further the state's interest in patient safety and timely delivery of prescribed medications.
People are still sometimes surprised to hear that when you walk into a pharmacy with a prescription, you could be told "I won't fill that" because "I object to birth control."
But they shouldn't be. Advocates of contraceptive care have been warning for years that the anti-choice crowd, the anti-woman's rights gang, the anti-freedom cabal, was not going to stop at abortion but was going to go after birth control. Heck, I was telling people that eleven years ago.
Which, I have to say, makes the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling even sweeter, a big, fat, "No so fast!" to those who would turn the clock back an entire century to a time when Margaret Sanger was being arrested just for distributing information on contraception.
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