Washington pharmacists fighting Plan B mandate

November 25, 2014

A Washington pharmacy owner and some of his pharmacists were recently back in federal court in Portland, Oregon, arguing that state mandates that it stock and timely dispense Plan B birth control products violate their religious beliefs.

A Washington pharmacy owner and some of his pharmacists were recently back in federal court in Portland, Oregon, arguing that state mandates that it stock and timely dispense Plan B birth control products violate their religious beliefs.

The case, Stormans v. Wiesman, has been in the federal courts for seven years. Those arguing against the Plan B mandates included Stormans’ President Kevin Stormans, pharmacist Rhonda Mesler, pharmacist Margo Thelen, Stormans’ co-owner Charelle Stormans Foege, Lynn Stormans, and Ken Stormans. Stormans is the lead plaintiff.

The pharmacy owner and pharmacists oppose Washington’s stocking rule and delivery rule. The stocking rule mandates that Washington pharmacies stock any legally prescribed drugs that are in demand. The delivery rule mandates that such drugs be dispensed in a timely manner.

The latter was adopted in 2007 after the state Board of Pharmacy received complaints that some pharmacists were refusing to dispense emergency contraceptives. Stormans and two pharmacists sued the state, contending the mandates violated their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

Kristen Waggoner, a Seattle attorney with the faith-based group Alliance Defending Freedom, argued before the appeals court that her clients are conscientious objectors who should receive the same accommodations for niche and boutique pharmacies that don’t keep wide-ranging inventories.

Alan D. Copsey, Washington’s deputy solicitor general, argued that the mandates need to be in place to make sure patients can receive necessary drugs when needed. It is unknown when the court will issue a ruling.