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Originally published Friday, November 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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David Postman

Rossi backs druggists' choice on Plan B

Excerpts from his blog, Postman on Politics Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi thinks pharmacists should be able to decide whether...

Seattle Times chief political reporter

Excerpts from his blog, Postman on Politics

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi thinks pharmacists should be able to decide whether they want to sell the Plan B emergency contraception pill.

There's been some question about where Rossi stands on the issue, particularly since last week when a federal judge in Tacoma suspended state rules that required pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill.

Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait told me by e-mail that Rossi believes pharmacists should not be forced to do something that is against their conscience or religious beliefs.

"In 2006, the state Pharmacy Board was prepared to adopt regulations, supported by the Washington State Pharmacy Association, that protected the right of conscience," Strait said.

"Unfortunately, Gregoire refused to let the board do its job and interfered. She threatened the board to see things her way and they ultimately complied with her heavy-handed tactics."

Judge Ronald B. Leighton issued a preliminary injunction last week that prevents the state from enforcing the Plan B rules pending a trial on the issue next year.

I had wanted to talk to Rossi himself about this. It's an issue that Gregoire has had a high profile on. But Strait said: "This is not a topic he has been campaigning on and [he] will not be doing an interview on it at this time."

I hope that as the campaign goes on, we don't get to talk to Rossi only about issues he chooses to campaign on. The governor doesn't always give straight answers, but at her regular media availabilities at least we get to ask.

By coincidence, four minutes before I got Strait's e-mail, Gregoire's office put out a statement from her about the judge's decision. She reaffirmed her position.

"While this court decision weakens protections for victims of sexual assault, and interferes with a woman's right to choose, it also allows any patient to be denied their medication for no apparent reason," Gregoire said.

"Third parties should not come between doctors and patients in medical decisions. This is about the right of personal privacy and medical access."

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Meanwhile, Bothell Pastor Joe Fuiten says Gregoire is persecuting Christians over the Plan B issue.

"Christians in Washington state should not overlook the governor as a persecutor of moral and religious conscience," Fuiten wrote in a column at his "Frankly Fuiten" Web site. "The governor has been behind a move to deprive pharmacies and pharmacists of their religious rights."

Fuiten has been deeply involved in the legal challenge against the pharmacy-board rules. He told me he has worked closely with the Olympia store owner who challenged the rule. The store owner's attorney is a deacon at Fuiten's Cedar Park Church, and the attorney's husband and father both work for Fuiten.

Fuiten is a Rossi supporter and says he hopes to help him as much as he can in his campaign against Gregoire. But he told me he has not contacted Rossi or his campaign over the Plan B issue.

This material has been edited for print publication.

David Postman is The Seattle Times' chief political reporter. Reach him at 360-236-8267 or at dpostman@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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