Conservative Legal Group on SCOTUS Rx Ruling: ‘No One Should Be Forced to Participate in the Taking of Human Life’

By Melanie Arter | June 28, 2016 | 3:11pm EDT
Father James Gould, pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, Va., shops for allergy medicine at Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy in Chantilly, Va. (AP Photo)

( – Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom expressed disappointment in Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision not to take up Stormans v. Wiesman, a case that involves rules forcing Washington state pharmacy owners and pharmacists to sell the emergency contraceptives contrary despite their religious beliefs.

“As the trial court found, the government designed its law for the ‘primary—if not sole—purpose’ of targeting religious health care providers. We are disappointed that the high court didn’t take this case and uphold the trial court’s finding,” ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said in a statement. ADF is a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

The high court ruling leaves in place rules enacted in 2007 to address reports that some women were denied access to emergency contraceptives effective when taken within a few days of unprotected sex, the Associated Press reported. According to the rules, if an individual pharmacist has moral objections to filling prescriptions for emergency contraceptives, they may refer patients to another pharmacist as long as it’s at the same store.

“All Americans should be free to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of unjust punishment, and no one should be forced to participate in the taking of human life. We had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court would take this opportunity to reaffirm these long-held principles,” Waggoner said.

“The state of Washington allows pharmacists to refer customers for just about any reason—except reasons of conscience. Singling out people of faith and denying them the same freedom to refer is a violation of federal law,” said Waggoner.

“All 49 other states allow conscience-based referrals, which are fully supported by the American Pharmacists Association, the Washington Pharmacy Association, and more than 34 other pharmacy associations. Not one customer in Washington has been denied timely access to any drug due to a religious objection,” she added.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the court’s decision.

“The court properly refused to take this case,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said in a statement. “When a woman walks into a pharmacy, she should not fear being turned away because of the religious beliefs of the owner or the person behind the counter.

“Open for business means opens for all. Refusing someone service because of who they are — whether a woman seeking birth control, a gay couple visiting a wedding catering company, or an unwed mother entering a homeless shelter — amounts to discrimination, plain and simple,” Melling said.

“Religious freedom is a core American value and one that we defend, but religious freedom does not mean a free pass to impose those beliefs on others," she added.

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