Pharmacists – Friend of the Court Brief Filed

This is about Plan B.

A friend of the court brief (PDF) was filed by Americans for the Separation of Church & State in the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit – (on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington) [No. CV-07-05374-RBL]

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice also filed an amicus curiae brief on March 11, 2008. Their brief is here – also PDF. Their arguments incorporate religious liberty and free will choice

Those regulations require pharmacies to dispense all medications in a timely manner, and preclude pharmacies from turning away a customer who presents a valid prescription to which the pharmacy owner or pharmacist on duty personally objects. The regulations do, however, allow an objecting pharmacist to decline to fill a prescription by, for example, passing it to another on-duty pharmacist to dispense the medication.

The plantiff is ‘Stormans, Inc (Ralph’s Thriftway) ‘ v. Mary Selecky* (*Secretary of the Washington State)

Some background here where the state of Washington, Dept of Health & Welfare dismissed some of the complaints against Ralph’s Thriftway:

The state Board of Pharmacy on Friday dismissed about half of some 20 complaints against Ralph’s Thriftway of Olympia. Store owners refuse to stock the morning-after pill in their pharmacy, citing moral objections.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has quite an impressive list of those endorsing the brief to include a few:

Catholics for Choice, Disciples for Choice, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ; Methodist Federation for Social Action; National Council of Jewish Women; Religious Coalition for Equality; The Planned Parenthood Federation of America Clergy Advisory Board; Unitarian Universalism Women’s –

just a few….


Since approximately 1973 onward I’ve worked in medicine – as an ‘x-ray tech’ which included everything from plain films to MRIs. There are many professions within medicine that I respect deeply because I’ve worked with them and know the extent of their educational background. Trust me – I’ve taken radiographs and performed special procedures on shuffling prisoners in leg irons escorted by armed guards, drunks under arrest who bore the responsibility of killing fellow travelers, french fry magnates who were assholes, and major league baseball players. It never occurred to me or anyone else I worked with to refuse to perform what was asked of us. [That said, I have had quite a number of uncooperative patients and their adamantness did result in not being x-rayed.]

So. I am NOT a fan of some pharmacist who thinks it necessary to foist their morality on those coming in to fill prescriptions, regardless of the type of medication. I would absolutely trust a pharmacist’s knowledge of medications over that of a physician because that’s the entire nature of their education. I don’t expect physicians to know all or even a lot about every medication; I do, however, expect that from a pharmacist. I respect that knowledge.

However, if you have a problem dispensing medications: birth control pills, ‘the morning after’ pill, Plan B or anything you think violates your code of values or ethics, then get out of the pharmacy business!

The bottom line for me has always been – first and foremost –


The patient comes first.

Not you.


Oh yeah, ya know what? There was that Major who refused to have me xray him because I was “just a PFC.” Might’ve been “just a PFC” but the physician, who had sent said Major from ER down to me in Radiology, was an orthopedic srugeon with whom we all worked extensively in clinc and in surgery. The major was forced to sign a medical release and from that point on – with that injury, he paid for his care at a German hospital, physician office or whatever else he might have needed. I saw that major back in our clinic a few months later. Trust me – he ‘allowed’ me to take his xrays. 😉


2 Responses

  1. If a Jesusistan Pharmacist cannot fill a prescription based on his or her “moral” objections, it’s time to find a new line of work. This bullshit can’t be tolerated.

  2. If a Jesusistan Pharmacist cannot fill a prescription based on his or her “moral” objections, it’s time to find a new line of work. This bullshit can’t be tolerated.

    Exactly, JR!

    It’s addressed in the brief as well.

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