This Washington

Women's Advocate Says Pharmacy Ruling Could Have Unintended Consequences

By Erica C. Barnett February 23, 2012

Lisa Stone, director of the women's law center Legal Voice, says yesterday's court decision allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency could have larger implications for pharmacists who oppose other legally prescribed medications for religious or moral reasons.

Specifically, Stone referred to cases in which pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for Viagra because they disapprove of sex outside marriage.

"I believe there was testimony to the [Board of Pharmacy] about a pharmacist somewhere in [Southwest Washington] who refused to fill a scrip for erectile dysfunction meds because he knew that the patient's wife had suffered a stroke and presumably could not have sex," Stone says. "The pharmacist concluded that the patient intended to have extramarital sex and refused."

If the ruling is upheld (the state and several women's groups are challenging the ruling in the Ninth Circuit), it could lead to all kinds of (presumably) unintended consequences. Pharmacists who oppose gay rights could refuse to provide fertility drugs to lesbian couples; those who oppose interracial marriage could refuse to give birth control to interracial couples; those who oppose sex outside marriage could refuse prenatal drugs to pregnant single women; or those who oppose vaccinations could refuse to provide them.

In related news, Reuters predicted  today that the ruling will have "national implications for the role of personal morality in the workplace,"
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