Americans United for Life has filed written testimony with the Washington Board of Pharmacy in support of pharmacist freedom of conscience. The Board of Pharmacy is reconsidering rules promulgated in 2007 that require pharmacists to fill prescriptions for “emergency contraception” without regard for conscientious objections.
In its testimony, AUL argues that freedom of conscience is a fundamental right that has been revered since the founding of our nation and that protection for individual conscience is an important norm in America law.
AUL also specifically urges the Board of Pharmacy to modify the existing rules to affirm the right of pharmacists to exercise their consciences and to reject attempts to require individual providers to affirmatively refer patients to non-objecting pharmacists or pharmacies (which some pharmacists believe would still make them complicit in morally-objectionable conduct). Instead, AUL asks the Board to consider the adoption of alternative systems to ensure that patient health care needs are served without eviscerating or burdening freedom of conscience.
Following the 2007 promulgation of the “emergency contraception” rules, a small group of Washington pharmacists filed a legal challenge in federal court, alleging that the rules violate their rights under both the federal and Washington constitutions. AUL filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the pharmacists.
The Ninth Circuit returned the case to a federal district court in Tacoma which has stayed the action pending the outcome of the Board of Pharmacies deliberations.