The plaintiffs argued that state policy requires pharmacies to provide all "commonly prescribed medicines."As the article goes on to note, this will be a battle over the phrase "commonly prescribed medicines". Wal-Mart will claim that EC is not "commonly prescribed". I suspect that the fact that it's call "emergency" contraception will be Wal-Mart's "proof" that it's not "commonly" prescribed. Then again, how can something be "commonly prescribed" if it's not available? Wouldn't doctors just stop prescribing it in the first place?
My take on this whole issue: people who decide that to become pharmacists should expect to prescribe everything. States have a constitutional right to set laws that require pharmacists to do that. In states that do no have those laws in place, then companies that employ pharmacists should be allowed to employ pharmacists that reflect their company policies. If a pharmacist doesn't like the company policy, then s/he shouldn't be allowed to sue the company. Rather, s/he should go find a job with a company/pharmacy that reflects hers/his values. If no such company exists, then s/he should get together with like minded pharmacists and form a competing business.
Do I think it's horrible to not offer these items to people? Sure, I do. No doubt about it. If I were running a pharmacy, I'd require all of my employees to dispense whatever a doctor prescribes unless it conflicts with current prescriptions. I think women have a right to their own bodies and the state has no right making that decision for them. I also believe that my business would compete against the no EC businesses and run them out of town. But to allow a pharmacist to thwart the wishes of the business owner over an issue of alleged free speech is idiotic. Sure, you've got free speech, but you don't have the right to employment everywhere. If I'm in the retail business and I tell my customers that my employer's views stink or refuse to do something the employer requires of me, then how long do you think I'll remain employed by that person/company?
I applaud the women for pursuing their legal recourse. I'm not confident that they will win the battle, but they should pursue it. It appears as if state law, in this case, may be on their side, though, and it's up to a court to determine whether or not that's the case. If not, then they should push their state legislature to amend the law in order to clarify it. That's the appropriate route for this cause.