Federal court rules that the State of Washington cannot force pharmacists to dispense life-ending drugs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (02-22-12) — Today a federal district court in Washington ruled that the state cannot force pharmacists to dispense life-ending drugs in violation of their religious beliefs. The holding guts the 2007 Washington Board of Pharmacy rules requiring pharmacies to dispense life-ending drugs such as Plan B and ella. AUL has been a major force in this case, placing AUL front and center in the defense of the First Amendment conscience rights of all Americans.

In the on-going Washington State matter, AUL submitted an amicus brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and also filed comments with the Washington Board of Pharmacy.

AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest observed, “Just as the Obama Administration is trying to force religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for life-ending drugs against their conscience beliefs, a federal district court has ruled that such an action is unconstitutional.”

The court held that the Washington Board of Pharmacy rules violate both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, declaring that the Board’s rules intentionally impinge on the plaintiff pharmacists’ fundamental right to free exercise of religion.  The decision comes on the heels of a 2011 state court decision in Illinois, striking a similar rule in that state.  That court held that the Illinois rule violated various state laws as well as the First Amendment.

“Two courts have now held that this type of coercion violates the very core of the Constitution,” said Dr. Yoest.   “This highlights just how radical the Obama Administration is in its unprecedented attempt to force religious institutions and all Americans to fund life-ending drugs.”

The brief was filed on behalf of a bipartisan group of state legislators and is available here.