US District Judge Ronald Leighton heard closing arguments last week in a lawsuit concerning a law requiring that pharmacists sell emergency contraception. Washington state law mandates that pharmacists stock and provide their patients with medicines that they medically need. Nevertheless, pharmacists may be permitted to request that another pharmacist at the same location provide the patient with the medication.
In 2007, Judge Leighton blocked the law from going into effect after two pharmacists filed a suit, claiming that the law violated their religious freedom protected by the constitution. However, a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling and returned the case to Judge Leighton, claiming that he applied the wrong legal standard.
Leighton's ruling is expected in a few weeks. Currently Plan B is available to women 17 years and older without a prescription. But because of the restriction that females under 17 must have a prescription to buy Plan B, it is only available for all women behind the counter of a pharmacy. Levonorgestrel, sold under the brand name Plan B, is a form of emergency contraception that must be taken within 72 hours of sexual activity.
Media Resources: National Partnership for Women and Families 2/3/12; Associated Press 2/1/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 12/14/12