PORTLAND, Ore. – Kristen K. Waggoner, lead counsel representing a pharmacy owner and two pharmacists opposed to Washington state regulations that would force them to dispense drugs that can terminate human life after conception, will be available for media interviews Thursday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
“No one should be forced to choose between their religious convictions and their family-owned businesses and livelihoods. This choice is neither necessary nor constitutional,” said Waggoner, senior vice president of legal services for Alliance Defending Freedom and counsel with Seattle-based Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC. “The premier medical and pharmaceutical associations all support the right of a provider to refer patients. No other state has a law this extreme, and the district court noted that these drugs are widely accessible throughout the state.”
After a 12-day trial that concluded in 2012, a federal district court in Washington suspended the state’s regulations. The ruling permitted the two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, and the owners of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia to continue to refer customers rather than sell the drugs Plan B and ella.
The district court found that the state adopted its new regulations “primarily (if not solely)” to ban religiously motivated referrals while the state, at the same time, permits pharmacies to refrain from stocking and delivering drugs for “almost unlimited” business, economic, and convenience reasons. The state and attorneys from Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit.
In its opinion, the district court wrote, “The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable. 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 rules are unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and former 10th Circuit Judge Michael McConnell are also co-counsel in the case, Stormans v. Wiesman, originally named Stormans v. Selecky.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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