Sunday, July 26, 2015

9th Court Forces Christians into Abortion Business

This week's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, overturning the 2012 ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, reinstates a 2007 Washington state requirement forcing all Christian pharmacists to sell the morning-after pill (Plan B), thus violating their religious liberty.
“The government has no business punishing citizens solely because of their religious beliefs.  The pharmacists in this case willingly refer patients to over 30 pharmacies that stock the morning-after pill within a 5 mile radius, and no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug.”
-- Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty
For background, read how Judge Leighton ruled the regulations to be anti-Christian.

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

Illinois Pro-life Pharmacists Win Against Plan B

Unlimited Plan B Abortion Pill in Stores for Kids

'Invisible' Abortions Soar Among Teens — Plan B

Over-the-Counter Abortion Paid by ObamaCare: Study

UPDATE 8/22/15: Persecuted Christians Testify at Iowa Rally Hosted by Sen. Ted Cruz

-- From "Pharmacy owners cannot cite religion to deny medicine - U.S. appeals court" by Dan Levine, Reuters 7/23/15

The state of Washington can require a pharmacy to deliver medicine even if the pharmacy's owner has a religious objection, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, the latest in a series of judgements on whether religious believers can opt out of providing services.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year allowed closely held corporations to seek exemptions from the Obamacare health law's contraception requirement.

A unanimous three-judge 9th Circuit panel on Thursday decided that the rules are constitutional because they rationally further the state's interest in patient safety. Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception, the court said.

"The time taken to travel to another pharmacy, especially in rural areas where pharmacies are sparse, may reduce the efficacy of those drugs," wrote Judge Susan Graber.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Ruling: Washington can require pharmacies to dispense Plan B" by Gene Johnson, The Associated Press 7/24/15

A Ralph’s Thriftway pharmacy in Olympia and two pharmacists sued, saying the rules required them to violate their religious beliefs, because the drugs can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, which they consider tantamount to abortion. They argued that they should be allowed to refer patients to a nearby drug store rather than fulfill the prescription themselves.

But the appeals judges — Susan P. Graber, Richard R. Clifton Mary H. Murguia — said that wasn’t good enough.

In his initial ruling, Leighton said the rules infringed on the pharmacists’ religious freedom and issued an order blocking them, but in 2009 the appeals court reversed that decision. After holding an 11-day trial, Leighton in 2012 basically reaffirmed his original reasoning.

But the appeals court found that the rules were neutral, rather than targeted at suppressing the religious objections of the pharmacists.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "WA Pharms Must Stock Morning-After Pill" by June Williams, Courthouse News Service 7/24/15

Stormans Inc., owners of Ralph's Thriftway in Olympia, and two individual pharmacists sued the state in 2007 over new Board of Pharmacy regulations that require pharmacies to stock and dispense the emergency contraceptive Plan B.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton initially barred enforcement of the new stocking rules, but the Ninth Circuit overturned the injunction in 2009 after finding that the lower court had abused its discretion and "incorrectly applied a heightened level of scrutiny to a neutral law of general applicability."

Although the injunction was lifted, Washington state put off enforcing new rules pending trial. Leighton concluded after a 2012 bench trial that the stocking and dispensing laws were unconstitutional.

[This week, the Ninth Circuit] panel rejected the pharmacists' argument that they should be allowed to refer patients to other drug stores because of their religious objections to dispensing emergency contraceptives.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Washington Pharmacists Must Stock Plan B Despite Religious Beliefs" by Ruby de Luna, KUOW-FM94.9 (Seattle, WA) 7/24/15

“We’re disappointed with the ruling,” says Kristen Waggoner senior legal counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, the group representing the pharmacy owner and two pharmacists. Waggoner says the ruling has broader implications; it would affect the state’s health care system.

“One third of the state’s hospital beds are affiliated with religious entities and in this case, the Catholic hospitals have said they will not sell these drugs in their outpatient pharmacies,” Waggoner says.

“We have to take a look at if the state truly intends to enforce these regulations in an evenhanded manner, it will have significant implications to healthcare throughout the state.”

Those three pharmacists will not have to comply with the federal appeals court decision, because that ruling doesn’t end the matter. Waggoner says she and her clients are considering their options for appeal.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Appeals court rules pharmacists must make Plan B, other contraceptives available in Washington" by Jim Camden, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) 7/24/15

Washington pharmacists who have religious objections to abortion or birth control can be sanctioned by the state if they send customers to another store for emergency contraception, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. . . . A pharmacist with a religious objection to the drug can refuse to fill a prescription only if another pharmacist at the store is available who will, the state had said.

The owners of Ralph’s Thriftway, a supermarket and pharmacy in Olympia which sued the state over the regulation, plan to appeal. Kevin Stormans, president of Stormans Inc., said in a news release that the state allows pharmacies to make referrals for other reasons and 33 stores stock the drug within 5 miles of the store.

“All we are asking is to be able to live out the beliefs that we hold, as Americans have always been able to do, and to be able to refer patients for religious reasons, as the medical and pharmaceutical associations overwhelmingly recommend,” he said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Court Says Washington State Pharmacy Must Provide Emergency Contraceptives Despite Religious Objection" by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter 7/24/15

In 2007, the Washington Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission unanimously adopted two administrative rules, the "Pharmacist Responsibility Rule" and the "Delivery Rule."

The "Responsibility Rule" stated that a pharmacy could not refuse to provide "lawful prescriptions", but did provide a religious exemption for pharmacies and pharmacists.

By contrast the "Delivery Rule" lacks any exemption for religious or moral objections to providing "lawful prescriptions," like emergency contraceptives.

In February 2012 Leighton ruled in favor of Ralph's and the two pharmacists, arguing that the Commission's rules were "in practice unconstitutional."

"The Board of Pharmacy's 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable. They were designed instead to force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted," wrote Leighton.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "No Pharmacy Owner Can Refuse Morning-After Pill in Washington, Court Rules" by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor 7/25/15

[. . . The 9th Circuit] court held that the state law is "neutral" and "generally applicable" and therefore citizens must obey it irrespective of their religious beliefs.

The court said this week that Stormans failed to establish their belief that the contraceptive pills can induce abortions, and that their religious freedom is a "fundamental right" in this case.

"On balance, however, we are unconvinced that the right to own, operate, or work at a licensed professional business free from regulations requiring the business to engage in activities that one sincerely believes leads to the taking of human life is 'so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental,'" the court said, referring to Snyder v. Massachusetts.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Federal Judge Blocks ObamaCare Assault on Christians

And read California Forces Catholics to Fund Abortion Insurance