A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Federal judge blocks Washington emergency contraception law

[JURIST] A federal judge Thursday issued an injunction [PDF text] suspending a Washington state law that would require pharmacists to dispense Plan B emergency contraceptives [product backgrounder], the so-called "morning-after pill." US District Judge Ronald Leighton's injunction effectively creates a "refuse and refer" system, allowing pharmacists to refuse to sell the pill if they refer the customer to another nearby source. Critics say that the system could harmfully delay womens' access to the contraceptive, which must be taken with 72 hours of intercourse to be effective. AP has more.

A similar compromise was proposed in a settlement in Illinois [JURIST report] after pharmacists sued the state in 2005 after Governor Rod Blagojevich passed a rule [press release] requiring all pharmacists to dispense the pill despite moral objections. Illinois pharmacists who morally object to dispensing Plan B would be permitted to refuse to fill prescriptions for the drug but must work with another pharmacist by phone to dispense the contraceptive, under a settlement submitted to an Illinois legislative panel. The proposed settlement would only affect Illinois females under the age of 17, as the FDA in 2006 approved over-the-counter sales of Plan B [JURIST report] to customers 18 years and older.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.