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Ninth Circuit Court: WA Can Force Pharmacists to Sell Plan B

In the latest development in a case that has lasted nearly a decade, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Washington State can force a pharmacy to sell Plan B despite their moral objections to doing so.

Plan B is a drug many object to because they believe it causes an early state abortion.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Health created new rules stating that pharmacies must stock and sell Plan B. However, Ralph’s Thriftway challenged the rule and a judge ruled that the First Amendment protected their right to refer customers rather than sell a drug they objected to on moral grounds.

In their ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision.

Kevin Stormans, President of Stormans Inc, which owns Ralph’s Thriftway, pointed out the irrationality of this decision in light of the general right pharmacists have to give referrals generally. “The state allows pharmacies to refer for all kinds of reasons. In practice, it only bans religiously motivated referrals.”

Mr. Stormans continued, “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose our family business.”

Kristen Waggoner, lead counsel in the case and Senior Vice President of Legal Services at the Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that, “This case will affect many facilities within the state, including Catholic hospitals and pharmacies, which have made clear they will not dispense these drugs.”

Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who is also suing Arlene’s Flowers because she declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding, called the decision “a major victory for the people of Washington.”

Luke Goodrich, an Attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped defend the pharmacists, noted that “no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug.”

But that didn’t matter.

The Court of Appeals said it was important for states to have the power to force pharmacists to violate their beliefs because, “facilitated referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether.”

The Oregon Labor Commission similarly cited hurt feelings to justify a $135,000 fine against a bakery that did not want to bake a same-sex wedding cake. In addition, Justice Kennedy’s decision redefining marriage similarly argued that acknowledging the difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships condemns people to “live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”

While traditionally the job of courts has been to interpret the law, the fact that the courts have appointed themselves guardians of the people’s feelings can only be a bad thing for freedom.

Attorneys for Ralph’s Thriftway have pledged to appeal the ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most frequently overturned.

What can you do in response to this decision?

  1. Contact your legislator and ask them to support legislation that allows Washingtonians to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of unreasonable government intrusion. You can reach them at the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.
  2. If you disagree with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s belief that this decision is “a major victory for the people of Washington”, call him at 360-753-6200 and let him know.
  3. Forward this email to someone who shares your concern about the rapid loss of liberty and encourage them to do the same. We are the solution to our problems.

Remember, in politics silence is consent. Always be respectful, but don’t be silent.

This story has been edited from its original version to correctly identify the lead counsel in the case. 7/24/15 11:11 am

Three Reasons It Isn’t Over

The Supreme Court has spoken.

It wasn’t a surprise, but it was disappointing. In a 5-4 decision, the Court created an oven-fresh, new right to marry someone of the same gender.  The Court provided no limiting principle that would prevent their logic from extending to other kinds of relationships whose profession of love is not currently acknowledged with a marriage license.

The decision was a setback for the rule of law.

The Constitution says as much about marriage as it does about the Seahawks.  When the Constitution is silent on an issue, then that issue should be resolved by the legislative branch of government.  The states (or Congress) should have been allowed to continue wrestling with this issue and reaching a resolution based on the input of the people through their elected representatives.

But as it turns out, the voices of 51 million people from thirty-one states who voted for laws defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman were overruled by five, unelected lawyers in Washington, DC.

For a number of people, the response to the Court’s decision was relief.  Sentiments like, “At least it’s over!!” and “Can we please stop talking about gay marriage now?”

Unfortunately, the conflict between the sexual revolution and the nation’s faith-based people and institutions may only intensify in the coming months and years.  Here’s why.

1. The LGBT political leadership doesn’t want to coexist:  An entire industry was built to accomplish what happened on Friday.  That industry is not going to suddenly declare itself obsolete. You don’t raise money by declaring victory. Now that “full equality under the law” has been accomplished, there will be another crisis requiring their attention, and another, and another…

2. Some people are still free to disagree: The goal of the LGBT political movement has always been to eradicate the belief that homosexuality and heterosexuality are different.  That is why they promote policies that allow someone to decline to decorate a cake critical of same-sex “marriage,” but not decline to decorate a cake supportive of it.  The goal is to create a government that punishes beliefs about homosexuality they disagree with. Therefore, as long as you have the freedom to run your business, non-profit, university, school, or church according to your beliefs, their job is not done.

3. Now it’s easier to call you a racist, legally speaking:  The 14th Amendment was written to stop the government from treating people differently because of their race. Now that the Supreme Court has discovered a new right to marry someone of the same gender in the 14th amendment, it’s easier to argue that those who don’t celebrate homosexuality are the same as racists. As a result, the ability to remove tax-exempt status, cut off federal funding to religious universities, and otherwise marginalize people who believe in natural marriage became easier.

Marriage has been redefined most recently, but it may not be the last word to be redefined.

Soon, “religious freedom” may mean only the freedom to believe what you want in your head and maybe talk about it at church or at home. You may need a license though. In the same way, “civil rights” may soon be redefined so that a person can be forced to celebrate an event they disagree with but not free to say something “offensive”.  After all, that’s “hate speech.”

The world is changing quickly, but the truth about marriage remains.

And the need for courage only grows.

So you stayed out of the debate about marriage because you didn’t feel like telling someone else how to live their life.  Great.

But what will you do when they start telling you how to live yours?

Will you surrender all your freedom in an effort to avoid being misunderstood? Let’s hope not.

But we’re going to find out, because, despite what we all wish, this is far from over.

A Response to Today’s Marriage Ruling

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that all fifty states must redefine marriage directly, forcing all states to provide same-sex licensure and mandating all states to recognize same-sex marriage from other states. This new order results in a definition of marriage that weakens the institution by making it about the desires of adults rather than the good of children.

Today’s decision serves as a reminder that societal change does not start with massive laws being passed, but that change begins with mass conversion. In preparation for an upcoming trip to the Holy Land, I have been reading through the Gospels. How fitting that today, the day that the Supreme Court of the United States would rule to make same sex unions legal across the nation, I would read the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke — the chapter about the risen Lord…“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is NOT here, He is RISEN.” What a reminder that our hope is not in any man, in any policy, or any institution! Our Hope is in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who alone is risen Lord and reigning King. While the earth and its desires may be passing away, Jesus is redeeming hearts and lives by the power of His Holy Spirit.

So today, may the people of God rejoice in our risen Lord and may the people of God be reminded that we will triumph over the enemy by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony.

The word of our testimony is a powerful influencer on culture. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Washingtonians, now is the time to speak. It is a time to share about marriage as God designed it, a union between a man and a woman for life. While by their judicial proclamation the Court may be able to declare same-sex marriage legal, they will never be able to declare it morally right. The Court does not have the power to overturn Natural Law. Now is the time to advocate for strong marriage policies and to work to ensure that the government never penalizes one who believes that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. If the risen Lord is for us, who can be against us?

PRESS RELEASE: SCOTUS Takes Power from the People — Redefines Marriage

OLYMPIA, WA – Today, under the case filed Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States imposed its will on the people when they mandated that all states re-define marriage directly and make their own marriage ruling.

Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) Executive Director Joseph Backholm made the following comments about the decision: 

“The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. Today, the Court stripped the people of that freedom. Government should not impose their beliefs on the people.

“Democracy matters and the vote of the people matters. The Court overrode the will of tens of millions of Americans in 31 states who successfully voted to preserve the millennia-old definition of marriage.”

Backholm also expressed concern about how this issue will affect religious liberty in America:

“People of faith should be able to live out their beliefs in the public square without being silenced to the four walls of their homes and churches. This decision poses a tremendous threat to religious liberties and will have future ramifications on schools, churches, non-profits, and private businesses.

“Today’s decision offers an opportunity to work together to advocate for strong marriage policy in the states and to ensure that the Government never penalizes a citizen or an institution who believes that marriage is the union between one man and one woman” concluded Backholm.