As resistance intensifies to the Obama administration’s mandate requiring employers to offer health insurance that includes free access to contraception, a federal judge has ruled that pharmacists in Washington State can be guided by their consciences rather than the state with regard to stocking and distributing abortifacients — the types of contraceptive drugs that can cause abortions.
On February 22 U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton found that, under pressure from Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state’s Board of Pharmacy had violated the constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms of pro-life pharmacists with a 2007 rule requiring them to stock and supply drugs such as Plan B and “ella” that can induce abortions, and prohibiting them from referring customers to other pharmacies for the drugs.
The plaintiffs in the case included a family-owned pharmacy, Ralph’s Thriftway, and two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, who refused to dispense the abortion drugs because of their pro-life convictions, instead referring patients to other druggists who would provide the contraceptives.
Because of the state’s regulations that trashed conscience protections for such individuals and parties, Margo Thelen lost her job, Rhonda Mesler was forced to transfer to another state, and Kevin Stormans, the owner of Ralph’s Thriftway, faced repeated investigations and threats of punishment from the State Board of Pharmacy.
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