Activists plan to boycott stores that won’t sell morning-after pill

OLYMPIA – Activists are planning a monthlong boycott of two grocery stores here after the owners said they won’t stock morning-after contraceptive pills.

The controversy may affect business at the two popular Thriftway stores owned by Stormans Inc., but that won’t change the policy, co-owner Kevin Stormans said.

“We’ve made our decision, and it’s what we have determined. We’re not going to change our position based on what happens. It’s not a negotiable issue,” he said.

More than a dozen activists, who held a planning session this week, said they hope to launch a boycott of Stormans’ two Thriftway stores in July.

“This is a very liberal community,” Olympia resident Janet Blanding said. “I think enough people care enough about women’s rights to boycott a store that is doing something like this.”

The flap comes as the state Board of Pharmacy considers a rule that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if they personally object.

The state pharmacy association favors that stance, but some women’s rights groups and Gov. Chris Gregoire are opposed.

Both debates center on morning-after contraceptives, a high dose of regular birth control pills that dramatically cut the chances of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

Some opponents feel the drug’s interference with a potential or imminent pregnancy comes too close to abortion.

“I don’t want to get into a detailed debate,” Stormans said. “I just think people have to choose when they believe life begins. There are questions about this drug on that issue.”

Under state law, a pharmacy must maintain a representative assortment of drugs in order to meet the pharmaceutical needs of its patients – but the only drug pharmacies are required to stock is ipecac syrup, which treats accidental poisoning.

“No pharmacy will ever carry every drug,” said Steve Saxe, the Pharmacy Board’s director.

Blanding said she plans to file a complaint with the board about the Stormans’ policy. Saxe said was not aware of any similar complaints.

The local chapter of the National Organization for Women is supporting the planned boycott. “I think we will see hundreds of people and have quite an impact,” said Linda Malanchuk-Finnan, the chapter’s president.

The state Pharmacy Board’s draft rule on refusing prescriptions is set for a final vote at the end of August. Gregoire has warned the board to change course, saying its members could be overruled or replaced if they do not heed her wishes.

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