Skip to comments.The Ninth Circuit's Wrong Ruling That Pharmacists Can't Refuse To Sell "Morning After" Pill
Posted on 07/09/2009 10:06:57 PM PDT by stevelackner
The L.A. Times reports that "pharmacists are obliged to dispense the Plan B pill, even if they are personally opposed to the 'morning after' contraceptive on religious grounds, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. In a case that could affect policy across the western U.S., a supermarket pharmacy owner in Olympia, Wash., failed in a bid to block 2007 regulations that required all Washington pharmacies to stock and dispense the pills. Family-owned Ralph's Thriftway and two pharmacists employed elsewhere sued Washington state officials over the requirement. The plaintiffs asserted that their Christian beliefs prevented them from dispensing the pills, which can prevent implantation of a recently fertilized egg. They said that the new regulations would force them to choose between keeping their jobs and heeding their religious objections to a medication they regard as a form of abortion. Ralph's owners, Stormans Inc., and pharmacists Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen sought protection under the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and won a temporary injunction from the U.S. District Court in Seattle pending trial on the constitutionality of the regulations. That order prevented state officials from penalizing pharmacists who refused to dispense Plan B as long as they referred consumers to a nearby pharmacy where it was available. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction. Other constitutional challenges are pending with the district court, which had been waiting for the 9th Circuit ruling on the injunction, said Chad Allred, a Seattle lawyer whose firm represents Stormans and the pharmacists. In anticipation of the injunction being vacated, Stormans and the two pharmacists secured an agreement with the state that it would not pursue sanctions against them until the other issues were decided at trial, Allred said."
The 9th Circuit held that Washington's Pharmacy Board rules are neutral regulations of general applicability that need only meet a rational basis test rather than the strict scrutiny standard used by the district court. But within the very opinion itself the judges seem to contradict themselves on this very point.
The Ninth Circuit stated that the new pharmacy rules are nuetral because they "do not aim to suppress, target, or single out in any way the practice of any religion because of its religious content." They said that they are generally applicable because there was "no evidence" that the State "pursued their interests only against conduct with a religious motivation. Under the rules, all pharmacies have a 'duty to deliver' all medications 'in a timely manner'" and the challenged regulations in the case do not apply "to refusals only for religious reasons." Yet the opinion also included the following not long thereafter: "How much the new rules actually increase access to medications depends on how many people are able to get medication that they might previously have been denied based on religious or general moral opposition by a pharmacist or pharmacy to the given medication." In other words, the entire success of the law they declare "nuetral" and "generally applicable" will be determined by its effect on religious people.
The Ninth Circuit itself quotes Supreme Court precedent to support the idea that the district court should not have looked to legislative history to determine whether a law is nuetral. The Ninth Circuit writes that "Justice Scalia, the author of the Smith opinion," one of the main cases the Ninth Circuit relies upon, "explained that the Free Exercise Clause 'does not refer to the purposes for which legislators enact laws, but to the effects of the laws enacted.' How does that then square with the apellate court's own declaration that the increase in the avaliability of medication "depends on how many people are able to get medication that they might previously have been denied based on religious or general moral opposition by a pharmacist or pharmacy to the given medication"?
Businesses, including pharmacies, should be able to sell what they wish without government intervention forcing them to sell a product they find morally repulsive. When the government forces a religious person in a specific business to sell a specific product, in violation of his legitimate and deeply held religious and moral convictions, then common sense dictates that there may in fact be a serious conflict with the First Amendment's ban on government laws that "prohibit the free exercise" of religion.
They may be required to despense it, but they aren’t reqiured to have it in stock. Sorry, Madam, but we will require a week to get your prescription.
That much is true. But the notion that an individual pharmacist has the right to refuse to sell a medication that the business owner *does* want to sell, and still keep his/her job, is completely incompatible with the concepts of freedom and private enterprise. It's also an insanely dangerous slope, onto which endless numbers of Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Wahhabist Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Jainists, fanatical vegan animal rights activists, etc, could climb, all taking jobs in healthcare facilities and then refusing to do anything that violated their religious beliefs -- this one will refuse to assist in blood transfusions or even in taking blood donations that are likely to be used for transfusions or transporting blood within a facility if it is to be used for a transfusion, that one will refuse to administer any medications that were ever tested on animals or help feed a patient a meal that contains animal products, another one will refuse to assist patients with using a toilet that happens to face Mecca, and on and on. You take a job, and you either perform all the assigned work that comes with it, or you get fired. You do not have a right to use other people's money (including taxpayers' money) to force people to submit to your beliefs.
What's wrong with the lazy *ss women/girls that they can't go to another pharmacy and buy it? I guess they aren't PRO-CHOICE unless it pertains to them!
'Give me what I want when I want it' attitude is sickening!
As the L.A. times reported the regulation said “a supermarket pharmacy OWNER in Olympia, Wash., failed in a bid to block 2007 regulations that required all Washington pharmacies to stock and dispense the pills.” Both the pharmacy owner and individual pharmacists were plaintiffs in the case.
How? Should they also be required to sell medication to euthanize people? Why not require them to sell pot too.
It should be between their employer and the employee. If the employee doesn't want to do what the employer requires they can find another job. If the employer wants to accommodate them then that's the employers choice.
It is none of the governments business period.
And it was just as legal to turn the valve in the gas chambers of Germany. Just because something is legal does not mean it is moral. I stand up and applause these people for standing up for their moral beliefs. We all scream about the moral decline of America and these people stand up to it and you say they should quite their God given choice of a job and go cut bait.
The only time a doctor could not refuse to do an abortion is during emergency surgery from some kind of internal or external trauma, and not performing the abortion would result in the death of both the mother and child.
“If it is a medication they stock”
That’s the problem. They didn’t want to stock it. Gummit says sorry, you have to, we don’t give a fig about conscience.
Well, in that situation the patient’s life is at risk. Refusing to give someone the morning-after pill doesn’t pose a danger to their health. I agree that that there has to be some guidelines though.
So based on this interpretation, I should have no problem buying my bacon at either a Halal or Kosher meat market? Good to know!
Or give it a 100,000% markup.
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