Targeted Pharmacists Appeal to Supreme Court

Pharmacists under fire from the State of Washington for refusing to dispense abortion drugs appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court this week.  Stormans, Inc. has resisted a state regulation that outlaws conscience-motivated referrals from one pharmacy to another for the dispensation of Plan B, also known as the “Morning After Pill.”  This rule, strong-armed into effect in 2007 by then-Governor Christine Gregoire (D) with the help of Planned Parenthood, has been opposed by the American Pharmacists Association.  Notably, the state allows referrals for numerous other business and convenience reasons.

While the pharmacists were victorious in U.S. District Court on grounds that the rule violated the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in favor of the state. 

In a press release by NRB member Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), whose attorneys are lead counsel for the pharmacists, the company’s president, Kevin Stormans, stated:

With more than 30 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the state demands that we violate our conscience or jeopardize our family business. 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. 

Along with ADF, lawyers with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Ellis, Li & McKinstry are also on the legal team.  The Supreme Court will likely consider later this spring whether or not to hear this case. 

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: January 8, 2016

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