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November 15, 2007

Rossi says pharmacists shouldn't have to sell Plan B

Posted by David Postman at 8:11 AM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi thinks pharmacists should be able to decide whether or not they want to sell the Plan B emergency contraception pill. There's been some question about where Rossi stands on the issue, particularly since last week when a federal judge suspended state rules that required pharmacist to dispense the morning-after pill.

Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait told me by e-mail:

Rossi supports the decision by Judge Leighton and believes that pharmacists should not be forced to do something that is against their conscience or religious beliefs.

In 2006, the state Pharmacy Board was prepared to adopt regulations, supported by the Washington State Pharmacy Association, that protected the right of conscience. Unfortunately, Gregoire refused to let the board do its job and interfered. She threatened the board to see things her way and they ultimately complied with her heavy-handed tactics.

The federal judge put the brakes on Gregoire's strong-armed approach and protected the constitutional rights of pharmacy professionals following their consciences.

I had wanted to talk to Rossi himself about this. It's an issue that Gregoire has had a high profile on. But Strait said:

This is not a topic he has been campaigning on and will not be doing an interview on it at this time.

(I hope that as the campaign goes on we don't only get to talk to Rossi directly about those things that he chooses to campaign on. The governor doesn't always give straight answers, but at her regular media availabilities at least we get to ask.)

By coincidence, four minutes before I got Strait's e-mail, Gregoire's office put out a statement from her about the judge's decision. She reaffirmed her position.

"This is about private medical decisions between patients and their physicians and pharmacies filling doctor prescribed medications.

"While this court decision weakens protections for victims of sexual assault, and interferes with a women's right to choose, it also allows any patient to be denied their medication for no apparent reason.

"Third parties should not come between doctors and patients in medical decisions. This is about the right of personal privacy and medical access."

Sidebar: Bothell Pastor Joe Fuiten says Gregoire is persecuting Christians. He said in a column at his Frankly Fuiten site

Christians in Washington State should not overlook the Governor as a persecutor of moral and religious conscience.

...

The Governor has been behind a move to deprive pharmacies and pharmacists of their religious rights.

Fuiten has been deeply involved in the legal challenge against the pharmacy board rules. He told he me has worked closely with the Olympia store owner who challenged the pharmacy board rule. The store owner's attorney is a deacon at Fuiten's Cedar Park Church, and the attorney's husband and father both work for Fuiten.

Fuiten is a Rossi supporter and says he hopes to help him as much as he can in his campaign against Gregoire. But he told me that he has had not connection with Rossi or his campaign on the Plan B issue.

AN EVENING UPDATE: I just ran into Fuiten at the King County Republican Party fall dinner. He says he hasn't been involved in the legal side of the Plan B challenge, but in helping to organize support for the Stormans, the family that owns the Olympia grocery store that has been the focus on a boycott. Fuiten said that he has worked to build support for the store from Olympia-area churches to counter the boycott.

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