Washington state coercive pharmacy regulation rejected by court

Judge Robert B. Leighton of the United States District Court has ruled against the Washington State Department of Health. The case may be summarized by quoting the judge’s opening and concluding paragraphs:

This case presents a novel question: can the State compel licensed pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense lawfully prescribed emergency contraceptives over their sincere religious belief that doing so terminates a human life? In 2007, under pressure from the Governor, Planned Parenthood, and the Northwest Women’s Law Center, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy enacted regulations designed to do just that. . .

. . . The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable. They were designed instead to force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted. The rules are unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs. The Court will therefore permanently enjoin their enforcement against Plaintiffs.

[Full text of ruling]

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