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Christians Can No Longer Be Pharmacists

SCOTUS majority allows abortifacient mandate; Alito sounds religious liberty alarm

The US Supreme Court today denied to hear a case involving pharmacists in Washington state who, for religious reasons, declined to dispense RU-486Plan B, the “morning-after pill,” which causes abortion. Effectively this means that Christian pharmacists who refuse to sell drugs that intend to exterminate life in the womb cannot work in the new society. More:

The Supreme Court will not review Washington state’s requirement that pharmacies dispense emergency contraceptives to women, prompting a complaint from conservative justices that it was an “ominous sign” for religious liberty.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued a sharp dissent Tuesday to the court’s decision not to review a lower court’s ruling upholding the regulations. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Alito said the case raised important First Amendment claims by religious pharmacists but that “this court does not deem the case worthy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

The case involved the Stormans family, who fell victim to a regulation imposed in 2007 by Washington’s pharmacy regulatory board, denying pharmacists the right to refer customers to other pharmacies for religious reasons. Pharmacies generally have the right to send customers to nearby pharmacies to acquire a drug they don’t stock — and that was the case with the Stormans’ pharmacy. There were other nearby pharmacies that were willing and able to stock the abortifacient drug. Besides, pharmacists retain the right of referral for any other reason — except religious ones.

The Stormans are Christians. They chose to fight. Here’s a short clip introducing them:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSpH6EU1YM0?rel=0&w=525&h=330]

One of the family members was at the ADF religious liberty conference I attended last week. He spoke about the harassment the family has endured over this, and how they have struggled to keep their business alive, and not to have to fire anyone. Theirs is a family business.

And now the State of Washington — the same state government that is trying to destroy small-town florist Barronelle Stutzman — as well as the liberal Supreme Court justices, have left them in ruins. Didn’t even think their case was worth a hearing. All because the Sexual Revolution must be defended at all costs. I tell you, that family will not burn its pinch of incense before Caesar. These people are fearless. Some of the family was in the room listening to Russell Moore’s powerful sermon on Friday night. They are now living it. If you’re a Christian, you had better read it too, because chances are you will be living it sooner or later.

It is interesting to think about the Stormans in relation to Pfizer and other drug manufacturers, who refuse to provide drugs they manufacture to states for use in capital punishment. If you believe that the government has a right to force pharmacists to sell RU-486 Plan B to a customer, despite strong conscience objections, then you must agree that Pfizer et alia must violate their consciences and sell drugs intended to kill convicted prisoners.

I believe the Stormans should have the right of refusal. And I believe Pfizer should as well. This is life and death we’re talking about.

What has happened today to the Stormans is only the beginning. They fought the good fight, all the way to the Supreme Court — but they lost. You need to get over the idea that if we only fight hard enough and pray hard enough, that we will certainly win. Don’t misunderstand: we have to fight with everything we have. But we have to recognize that as the darkness grows and thickens, we are going to be losing these cases. We live in what Pope St. John Paul II called the Culture of Death. We need what I call the Benedict Option for a moment such as this for the Stormans, and for every Christian pharmacist who lives in a state that compels them to sell poison to expectant mothers who wish to exterminate the lives in their wombs. The Stormans will need help. They will need the spiritual and moral support of their community, both locally and beyond, and they will need financial help, because their family business has just been destroyed by the government. All because they would not sell a baby-killing pill that is widely available in pharmacists all over the state.

In fact, it emerged in lower court trial that over 30 pharmacists within a five-mile radius of the Stormans’ pharmacy sold RU-486. It is easy to get RU-486 Plan B in that part of Washington, and indeed all over the state. But that wasn’t enough for the State of Washington. ADF, which represented the Stormans and others in this case, said:

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. 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. 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.

Washington is the only state that has this specific regulation on pharmacies. Now that the Supreme Court has greenlighted it, look for Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion radicals to start lobbying friendly state legislators across the country to pass similar legislation.

Welcome to the new age. It is real, and it is happening.

I would not be surprised if legislatures in conservative states passed laws requiring drug companies who do business in those states to provide drugs used in executing prisoners. I hope they do not, because in my view, it would be gravely immoral to compel a drug maker or dispenser to violate their conscience to participate in a killing they consider to be wrong. But it would make an interesting test case. Capital punishment is still legal in this country, after all, just like abortion.

I want you to notice something. The Left always accuses the Right of advancing the culture war, even though it is usually the Right playing defense. The pharmacists’ situation is a classic example. Nobody in Washington state had the slightest problem finding RU-486 Plan B. If they couldn’t get it at the Stormans’ pharmacy, there were plenty pharmacies nearby where they could. Conscience exemptions are standard nationwide, and state and national pharmacy professional associations filed amicus briefs supporting the Stormans. Nobody wanted this regulation, except the Jacobins of the Sexual Revolution.

And now they have it. If there is a backlash in capital punishment states that results in drug manufacturers being forced to provide drugs used to kill prisoners, get it straight in your head right now that it’s because Planned Parenthood and these other Jacobins decided to create a problem where there was none, just to destroy Christian pharmacists.

The illegitimacy of the regime grows by the day.

UPDATE: Post corrected re: Plan B. Thanks to readers who alerted me.

UPDATE.2: From a lawyer:

With respect to your post this morning on Stormans, to be fully depressed and, more importantly, fully aware of what is going on, it helps to compare the Supreme Court’s refusal this week to take that case with its decision this week in Whole Women’s Health. They cannot be bothered to consider a claimed violation of the explicit right to free exercise of religion by a law that serves no need and is a blatant pretext, but they will consider and go out of their way to strike down a claimed violation of the Casey abortion right by a law that, in their view, serves no need and is a pretext.

UPDATE.3: A number of you claim that Plan B is not abortifacient. You may be right. But even if it is not, why should any pharmacy be required to dispense it if its owner’s conscience is deeply offended for whatever reason? Let’s say RU-486, the pill that everybody agrees causes abortion, were mandated by the Washington state authorities. Would you support the conscience exemption then? Even if the Stormans are wrong about Plan B being abortifacient, they have a sincere belief that dispensing it is a conscience violation. I do not see why this is such an overwhelming public health necessity that it justifies compelling those people to violate their consciences. The Becket Fund reports that in an earlier court proceeding, the state of Washington conceded that ten times as many Washington pharmacies refuse to stock Plan B because they don’t make enough money on it than refuse to stock it for conscience reasons. But the state only made it an offense to refuse to stock it for conscience reasons. How is that fair?



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