More than 10% of pharmacies in Washington state either do not stock emergency contraception or employ at least one pharmacist who would decline to dispense the drug on request, according to a survey released on Wednesday by NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the Seattle Times reports (Ostrom, Seattle Times, 2/14). Based on information from a phone survey, the organization has issued a Web-based, interactive map showing which pharmacies in Washington restrict access to EC, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Paulson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/14).

For the survey, NARAL asked volunteers to call pharmacies in the state and ask whether they could obtain EC at the pharmacies' locations. The callers said they were with the "Emergency Contraception Access Project." The pharmacies were then grouped into one of three categories: those that did not stock EC, those that did but had at least one pharmacist who refused to dispense it and others (Seattle Times, 2/14).

Karen Cooper, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said that volunteers successfully interviewed 1,014 of the 1,190 pharmacies they identified statewide. They found that 7.4% of the pharmacies interviewed do not stock Plan B contraceptives and that 3% said they have at least one pharmacist on staff who refuses to dispense the drug, the Post-Intelligencer reports. "I was astounded at how many" had some restrictions to EC access, Cooper said (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/14).

Some pharmacies objected to their designations in the report as wrong or misleading. Representatives of the Washington State Pharmacy Association said NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's data are inaccurate and disputed assertions that some pharmacists "harassed or shamed" women who wanted EC, the Times reports (Seattle Times, 2/14). A legal challenge to a state regulation requiring pharmacies to provide EC on request is pending in federal court (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/14).

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