The Supreme Court ruled Washington State pharmacists are required to provide emergency contraception
It’s been a successful week for women’s health. First, the Supreme Court ruled that the regulations Texas placed on abortion clinics were unconstitutional, and now AP reports that the state of Washington has to provide women the reproductive health care access they need as well. Specifically, SCOTUS ruled that pharmacists in the state are required to dispense Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, which has been an issue after certain pharmacists claimed they would not sell the drugs for religious reasons.
Emergency contraception like Plan B is usually taken the day after (hence the nickname “morning-after pill”) unprotected sex and has a 95% success rate at preventing unwanted pregnancy (this number drops to 58% if taken between 49 and 72 hours after).
The AP reported that by rejecting the pharmacists’ appeal, the rules fist put in place in 2007 still stand: pharmacies are required to fill lawful prescriptions, but if individual pharmacists have moral objections then they can refer patients to another pharmacist at the store. Either way, they cannot prevent patients from obtaining this legal drug.
However, the three dissenting judges, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas believe this could be a slippery slope. “If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his 15-page dissent.
It’s important that people are allowed to exercise their religious freedom, but it’s also important that women prevent unwanted pregnancies easily and safely. Hopefully, this ruling allows for a middle ground that keeps everyone satisfied with their own individual choices.