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Home  Aggregator    Good news: Federal court upholds conscientious objection in Washington State  77046

Aggregator • Hyscience • ID=77046

Via Barbara Hollingsworth at The Examiner:

A federal judge in Tacoma, Washington cited the First Amendment to strike down a law requiring licensed pharmacists to dispense the controversial "morning-after" pill even if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

ww.becketfund.org/court-strikes-down-law-requiring-pharmacies-to-dispense-the-morning-after-pill/"target=_blank"">The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represented two pro-life pharmacists who worked at Ralph's Thriftway, a family-own drug store in Olympia. The fund's deputy national litigation director, Luke Goodrich, hailed the ruling as a victory for religious rights.

Becket attorneys recently won a landmark decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a religious institution's right to choose its own ministers, and is currently challenging the Obama administration's birth control mandate on behalf of Ave Maria University.

Thriftway customers who requested Plan B or similar drugs were referred to nearby pharmacies until a new state regulation passed in 2007 made such referrals illegal for reasons of conscience - even though referrals for other reasons were still allowed. Pharmacist Margo Thelen lost her job, Rhonda Mesler was told she had to transfer to another state, and the pharmacy's owner was repeatedly investigated.

The ruling in the four-year-old case coincided with national outrage over the Obama administration's attempt to force religious institutions to pay for the same types of drugs in their employee insurance plans

"Today's decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs," Goodrich said. "If the state allows pharmacies to refer patients elsewhere for economic, business, and convenience reasons, it has to allow them to refer for reasons of conscience."

In 2006, Gov. Christine Gregoire replaced several State Board of Pharmacy members with Planned Parenthood-approved candidates after the board unanimously voted to protect pharmacists' right of conscience. The new board revised the regulations, making Washington State one of a handful in the nation that required pharmacists to stock emergency contraceptives.

"The Board's regulations have been aimed at Plan B and conscientious objections from their inception," U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton explained in his ruling. "Indeed, Plaintiffs have presented reams of [internal government documents] demonstrating that the predominant purpose of the rule was to stamp out the right to refuse [for religious reasons]."Seems to me that in the context of Obama's HHS assault on the First Amendment and religious liberty ... in the words of Joe Biden ... this ruling is a big 'effing' deal and should have some implications in the potential outcome in the Bishops' fight against the Obama administration - especially given last month's Supreme Court unanimous ruling that religious institutions have a constitutional right to determine their ministers without government interference.

Related: 5 Reasons the Obama Admin May Be Losing the Contraceptive Mandate Battle

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