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-Federal court: Forcing Pharmacists to Distribute Abortive Drugs ‘Unconstitutional’

by Dr. D ~ February 23rd, 2012

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TACOMA, WASHINGTON, February 22, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com):

In a decision that could impact the unfolding debate over the HHS mandate, today a federal court in Washington state upheld the First Amendment rights of pharmacists to refuse to distribute potentially abortifacient contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, such as Plan B and Ella, if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The decision overturns Washington Board of Pharmacy rules approved in 2007 by pro-abortion governor Christine Gregoire, which lacked the exemption.

The court found the state rules forcing all pharmacists to distribute abortive drugs to be “unconstitutional” based upon First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds. Here’s a quote from the decision:

“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.”

The ruling is the culmination of a case filed nearly five years ago before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington after the state government passed regulations compelling all pharmacists to stock and distribute abortive drugs.

Opponents deemed the regulations to be unnecessary since not even one case could be found where someone went without the drugs because of a pharmacist declined to provide access due to religious objections. The abortives were readily available from plenty of other pharmacists and sources.

This is the second court to issue a similar ruling. Last year an Illinois court also upheld the conscience rights of pharmacists.

Response: This is an important decision for the entire country and not just for Washington state since it comes from a Federal court.

Early on President Obama rescinded an executive order of former President Bush that protected the conscientious rights of health care workers. This is a good indication how it may play out in the courts if a case comes up where a nurse or doctor is forced to participate in an abortion or a procedure that is against their religious beliefs. 

Also, there is considerable discussion and concerns over whether the conscientious or religious rights of health care workers are protected in Obama’s health care law which is due to begin in another year or so.

This decision could also give us some idea how Obama’s HHS contraceptives mandate might play out when it is challenged in court. Especially since no one is banning or curtailing access to the drugs the eventual ‘mandate’ case should also revolve around conscientious and religious rights.              *Top

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