Assembly Approves Bill That Would Require Pharmacists To Fill All Prescriptions
The Assembly on Wednesday voted 47-27 to approve a bill (SB 644) by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) that would require pharmacists to fill all legal prescriptions unless they previously designate in writing their religious or moral objections to certain medications, such as emergency contraception, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
In addition, the bill would require pharmacies to develop plans to fill prescriptions in a reasonable timeframe in the event that a pharmacist objects to a medication. The bill returns to the Senate, which will consider the Assembly's amendments.
Assembly member Ray Haynes (R-Temecula) said the bill might force some pharmacists to choose between their religious beliefs and their jobs. "This is about forcing people to dispense drugs to terminate pregnancies," he said, adding, "You have to force every single individual in this society to accept this right. You have to stick a gun in their face and says, 'If you don't do it, we're going to take away your profession.'"
However, Assembly member Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) said the exception for written objections would alleviate pharmacists' concerns about their jobs.
In other legislative action Wednesday, a bill (AB 1759) by Assembly member Johan Klehs (D-Hayward) that would have allowed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to cancel the Nov. 8 special election was defeated after the Senate voted 24-15 in favor of the legislation. The decision was three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve the bill.
Supporters of the measure had said the bill was needed to clarify the governor's power to cancel a special election. Some proponents also said the propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot should be combined with the June 2006 primary election in order to save the state money. Schwarzenegger has said he will not cancel the special election (Lawrence, AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/7).