22 December 2010

Washington State Win! Pharm Board Protects Access to Emergency Contraception

It's always nice to be able to report a little good news around the holidays, and the folks in Washington State are giving us the opportunity to do exactly that!

You may remember that just over a month ago, we reported on a challenge to an existing rule in Washington State that requires pharmacies to fill customer prescriptions for legal medications -- regardless of how individual pharmacists may feel about whether these products should or should not be legal. If the rule had been overturned, pharmacies in the state could have refused to provide certain medications to customers on the basis of "moral objection" -- medications like Plan B (the "morning after" pill) and other types of contraceptives.

Well, via the NWLC blog, we are happy to report that by a vote of 5 -1, the state pharmacy board in Washington voted last week to keep the rule in place, and require all pharmacies to provide their customers access to "all drugs, including emergency contraception, on-site and without delay." !!!

That's a huge win for advocates in the state -- not least of all because action on the ground very likely had a real impact on the board's decision. As NWLC reports, the pharmacy board received more than 5,300 comments from the public regarding the rule, more than 80 percent of which supported keeping the measure in place. That outpouring of support was not accidental -- it was the result of an organized effort by groups like Ms. Foundation grantee NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, which launched an online campaign to help Washingtonians voice their desire to keep the rule in place.

Though a lawsuit filed in 2007 by two pharmacists who oppose the law will continue to wind its way through the courts, this decision by the pharmacy board makes it possible for residents of Washington State to maintain access to medications of all kinds in the process. Congrats to NARAL Pro-Choice Washington on a job well done!

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