Pharmacist argues sale of Plan B violates religious beliefs

Seven years ago, two pharmacists sued the state of Oregon after the Pharmacy Board forced them to ralphs pharmacycarry and sell a contraceptive. On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides, including those that have a moral objection to the Plan B birth control, which they could not refuse to carry.

The state won the case back in 2012 but those pharmacists see the medicine as a form of abortion. The two sides differ greatly on just how accessible the drug is for all citizens of Oregon. While the pharmacists contend that they have always felt comfortable referring interested parties to other nearby carriers, the state worries that scenario doesn’t always pertain to the vast population who live in rural environments with few to no options.

The pharmacy, Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, argues consumers seeking the abortion drug aren't harmed. Despite other nearby options that provide the Plan B, the state of Washington saw the omission as an enforcement offense.

‘There were real life problems that were being encountered with refusal to deliver emergency medicine,” argued state’s attorney Tom Bader.

The pharmacists claim that patients aren't underserved for their refusal to carry the product. Plan B is a legal drug available to anyone over the age of 17.

Another concern that is at the center of the appeal is that the pharmacists believe they are being specifically singled-out due to their religious beliefs.

‘Test shoppers from Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups have targeted them,” argued Kristen Waggoner, attorney for the pharmacists. “They are applying the regulations only against religious objectors.”

The state also worries that this particular refusal could spill into other “moral” areas of treatment that could endanger the surrounding community that suffer from far greater and more serious ailments and conditions. Pharmacists, for example, could refuse to supply AIDS medication to patients in a timely manner.