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Washington Health Department Schedules Public Meetings About Plan B

Derek Wang

Washington state's Health Department has taken a formal step toward possibly changing the rules regarding how medications are dispensed by pharmacists. The Health Department submitted formal paperwork about the issue this week. That could start a process to change a disputed policy regarding a controversial birth control drug, known as the morning after pill or Plan B.


The State Department of Health has scheduled two meetings next month about the possible new rules. The first will be on September 17 in Renton. The second is scheduled for September 29 in Kent.

At these meetings, officials will meet with stakeholders to talk about any possible change.

Under the current rules, pharmacists are required to dispense Plan B. They can choose not to, but only if someone else at the pharmacy is willing to give it out.

Plan B can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. It has no effect on existing pregnancies.

Some pharmacists have personal and religious objections to the drug and have sued the state over the policy.

That lawsuit is on hold, because the state is considering changing the rules.

Under the proposal, pharmacists would not be required to give out the medicine. Instead, they could refer customers to a different pharmacy.

But opponents to that change say it would be difficult on people living in rural areas. That's because some rural areas have fewer pharmacies and fewer choices compared to urban areas.

The last time the state took up the issue it received more than 40,000 comments, so any possible new rule will likely be just as controversial.

I'm Derek Wang, KUOW News.

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