Federal Court Rules Pharmacy Must Stock Morning-After Pill Despite Religious Beliefs

30 Jul

Federal Court Rules Pharmacy Must Stock Morning-After Pill Despite Religious Beliefs.


SEATTLE, Wash. — A federal appeals court has ruled that a pharmacy in Washington state must stock the morning after-pill despite the owner’s beliefs that the item is an abortifacient and thus contrary to his religious beliefs.

As previously reported, in 2006, Ralph’s Thriftway owner, Kevin Stormans, received a call inquiring whether the location sold the morning-after pill. After replying that the pharmacy did not carry it, he began to receive anonymous complaints via phone and email. Ralph’s Thriftway was soon also picketed and complaints were filed with the Washington Board of Pharmacy, who launched an investigation.

The following year, the state passed regulations requiring that pharmacies stock and dispense the morning-after pill, and ADF filed suit on behalf of Stormans and two of his pharmacists, Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen, who objected to the requirement because of their Christian faith.

Later that year, a federal court ruled in favor of Ralph’s Thriftway, stating that the new regulations “appear to intentionally place a significant burden on the free exercise of religion for those who believe life begins at conception.”

But the matter soon moved to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the regulations were placed on hold while the matter proceeded in court. On Thursday, the court unanimously ruled that Ralph’s Thriftway must stock Plan B despite his religious objections.

“The rules are rationally related to Washington’s legitimate interest in ensuring that its citizens have safe and timely access to their lawful and lawfully prescribed medications,” Judge Susan Graber wrote for the panel.

She said that while the pharmacy was willing to offer referrals, doing so is not acceptable due to the urgency a woman might feel to obtain contraceptives.

“Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception and of many other medications,” Graber wrote. “The time taken to travel to another pharmacy, especially in rural areas where pharmacies are sparse, may reduce the efficacy of those drugs.”

The court also opined that referrals could result in causing women to re-think taking the drug.

“Additionally, testimony at trial demonstrated how facilitated referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether,” Graber stated. “In our view, the commission’s decision not to allow facilitated referrals falls within its stated goal of ensuring timely and safe delivery of prescription medications and, accordingly, does not demonstrate discriminatory intent.”

Stormans said that he is disappointed in the ruling and doesn’t believe that she should be forced to violate his conscience.

“The state allows pharmacies to refer for all kinds of reasons. In practice, it only bans religiously motivated referrals,” he said. “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose 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,” he said.

Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the legal groups that is fighting in defense of the pharmacy, likewise opined that the ruling was unjust.

“No one should be forced to choose between their religious convictions and their family businesses and livelihoods, particularly when the state allows referrals for just about any other reason,” she commented in a statement. “The premier medical and pharmaceutical associations all support the right of a provider to refer patients, and all other states allow such referrals.”

The decison will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thus, we see that it isn’t merely in regards to homosexuality-related issues that progs target Christian businesses, and courts rule against them; whether it’s contraceptives, or the abortion pill, the same thing happens.

(BTW, sadly, Health Canada has just approved RU-486 here, so no doubt Canadian Christian pharmacy owners will end up facing this situation eventually, too…)


15 responses to “Federal Court Rules Pharmacy Must Stock Morning-After Pill Despite Religious Beliefs

  1. infowarrior1

    July 30, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Civil disobedience and some cunning needs to happen in this regard. If Christian businesses is illegal and there is nothing that can be done to change that. Then Christian businesses should if possible operate illegally.

  2. Will S.

    July 30, 2015 at 11:38 am


    There are two approaches we could take: go underground, or, stand our ground, and face the consequences.

    Either way, God is glorified.


  3. feeriker

    July 30, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    @IW and Will:

    The only “law” any of us are morally bound by is the Natural Law, which, when distilled down to its essence, says “Do No Harm.” That’s it.

    Refusing to do business with someone is not doing them harm (“our competition is right down the street. They’ll be more than happy to serve you.”). Hurting someone’s fragile feelings by not doing business with them is not doing them harm.

    However, forcing someone to violate their own personal beliefs in order to cater to the beliefs of a third party, beliefs that are at odds with the first party’s beliefs, is aggression, and thus a violation of both Natural Law AND the positive statutory law from which the State’s bastardized and UNLAWFUL fiats are derived.

    Tl;dr version: the federal court decision is in violation of both natural and statutory law. Ergo, not only is Mr. Stormans fully justified in resisting it, he is arguably morally obligated to do so.

  4. feeriker

    July 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I should add to my last post, just to be clear, that the Natural Law is part and parcel of God’s Law.

  5. Mark Citadel

    July 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Funny how Muslims businesses are never targeted this way, hmmm. Could it be the response is different?

  6. Sean

    July 30, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I say stock one package at $375. Nobody said it had to be cheap or easily affordable to anyone. Plus you can always point to the one on the shelf and say “Yup, it’s there.”

  7. Eric

    July 30, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    This is fast becoming the North American version of Kristalnacht. As I mentioned earlier, what we’re witnessing is an effectual copy of the Nazi Anti-Jewish laws. What will happen next is that churches who refuse to toe the Prog line will lose tax-exempt and other legal certifications, and Christians forbidden to hold certain jobs or get contracts—which is also de facto happening now.

    Here’s another solution: expat.

  8. Will S.

    July 31, 2015 at 2:49 am

    @ feeriker: Agreed.

    @ Mark: Indeed; same as they don’t target Islam here:

    @ Sean: Ha! 🙂

    @ Eric: Yes, I see such things happening.

    Moving to Russia looks increasingly appealing. 😉

  9. Eric

    July 31, 2015 at 3:30 am

    There is a lot of typical Prog hypocrisy too: note how the same Planned Parenthood types who squawk endlessly about ‘the right to choose’ don’t want anybody else exercising that right.

  10. Peter Blood

    July 31, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Sell it for no profit. Put a sign up: “I make no profit on this product. For every unit sold I will donate $100 to ….” some charity that triggers leftists.

  11. Will S.

    July 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    @ Eric: Exactly!

    @ PB: Ha! 🙂

  12. Eric

    July 31, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    What’s especially disturbing is this line: “After replying that he did not carry it, he began receiving anonymous phone calls and e-mails…was soon picketed and complaints were filed…”

    I’ve mentioned before that this kind of harassment isn’t unheard of in the PNW. But isn’t this suspiciously similar to how Nazi Brownshirts used to stalk Jewish-owned businesses?

  13. Will S.

    July 31, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I honestly don’t know enough about the situation of Jewish merchants in Nazi Germany before Krystallnacht, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Nazis engaged in such behaviour, same as it doesn’t surprise me that their equally hate-filled, Christianity-hating prog cousins do, today.


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