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Federal Court: Forcing Pharmacists to Distribute Abortifacients is Unconstitutional

Ben Johnson : Feb 24, 2012 : LifeSiteNews.com

"This is a significant win for Americans who have been concerned about their First Amendment rights." -Kristi Hamrick, Americans United for Life

Plan B abortifacient(Tacoma, WA)—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 Board of Pharmacy's 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable," the court ruled in its decision. "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 court found the rules "unconstitutional" on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

"Just as the Obama administration is trying to force religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for life-ending drugs against their conscience beliefs, a federal district court has ruled that such an action is unconstitutional," Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com.

The ruling brings to an end 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 pharmacists to stock and distribute abortifacient drugs. The regulation's proponents could not find a single case in which someone went without the drugs because of a religious objection.



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