Background: Current Federal and State Laws protects the right to conscience. Planned Parenthood and the Northwest Women’s Law Center (NWLC) have been persistent in their efforts to oppose conscience protection and have presented their position to the Washington State Board of Pharmacy (which has rule making and disciplinary authority for pharmacists)and the Governor's office. On June 1st, 2006, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy wrote a draft of rules to address these concerns. This first draft of rules they composed on June 1st, supported current Federal and State Laws that currently protect pharmacists' right to conscience.
Due to pressure by Governor Christine Gregoire, Planned Parenthood and the Northwest Women's Law Center, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy voted to approve proposed rule language, by the Governor and the special interest groups. This newly proposed rule is Pharmacies Responsibilities WAC 246-869-010. In addition, changes are to include proposed amendments to WAC 246-863-095 Pharmacist's Professional Responsibilities. This newly proposed rule does not support the right for pharmacists to live and act according to their conscience.
This is a coordinated national effort to silence conscience which is being promoted by certain interest groups. These groups and the media have made the issue about Plan B, the so called ”morning-after-pill”. Despite wide accessibility to Plan B, through Planned Parenthood, internet overnight delivery, doctors’ offices, clinics, and many pharmacies, groups are trying to force all Washington pharmacies to dispense Plan B. Plan B is also sold over-the-counter, without a physician’s prescription.
Plan B can prevent implantation of the human embryo, thus, causing an abortion. Current WA State Law states, “No person or private medical facility…may be required …in any circumstances to participate in the performance of an abortion if such person or private medical facility…objects to so doing. No person may be discriminated against in employment or professional privileges because of the person's participation or refusal to participate in the termination of a pregnancy.“ (RCW 9.02.150) The WA State Board of Pharmacy is considering a draft rule that impinges on this right for WA pharmacists & pharmacies. However, before this draft is adopted or amended, a hearing will be held to hear public comments regarding this draft.
Pharmacists exercising their right to act in accord with their conscience
according to current federal and state laws.
Pharmacists respecting the patient's right to make their own health decisions
while refraining from participating in the patient’s decision when it violates the pharmacist's conscience.
Protects public health and increases medication access:
Currently, there is a shortage of pharmacists in the United States. Without protecting the right to conscience of our pharmacists, pharmacists will be forced out of the profession, pharmacies will close down (most especially critical in rural areas), others will be prevented from entering the profession, thus, further increasing the shortage and causing a true lack of access to medication.
A Conscience Clause is NOT:
Pharmacists wanting to trump the health care right of patients
Pharmacists discriminating against patients
Pharmacists preventing or limiting a patient’s access to medications, e.g.
birth control, emergency contraception (a.k.a. morning after pill, PlanB), or abortion medications