The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty strikes again. This time, Christianity’s own personal brute squad took on Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion Catholic Governor Christine Gregoire.
Today, religious liberty gained a resounding victory. A federal court in Tacoma, Washington, struck down a Washington law that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill even when doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The court held that the law violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
“Today’s decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy National Litigation Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “If the state allows pharmacies to refer patients elsewhere for economic, business, and convenience reasons, it has to allow them to refer for reasons of conscience.”
The plaintiffs in the case, according to The Becket Fund are a family-owned pharmacy (Ralph’s Thriftway) and two individual pharmacists (Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler) who cannot in good conscience dispense Plan B (“the morning-after pill”) or ella (“the week-after pill”). They have this weird notion (see: Science) that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and that these drugs destroy human life.
Rather than dispensing those little pills that kill little humans, they refer patients to one of dozens of nearby pharmacies that stock and dispense them nearby.
But cue the evil music because along comes our favorite Catholic Governor Christine “No conscience is sacred” Gregoire who threatened and forced the Washington State Board of Pharmacy in 2007 to pass new regulations making it illegal to refer patients to neighboring pharmacies for reasons of conscience, despite allowing them to refer patients elsewhere for a wide variety of business, economic, or convenience reasons. The regulations were written by Planned Parenthood. Gregoire actually threatened to replace members of the Pharmacy Board unless they did what she wanted. And she publicly boycotted Ralph’s Thirftway.
Because of the regulations, Margo Thelen lost her job; Rhonda Mesler was told she would have 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.
But thankfully, the court ruled in their favor thanks to The Becket Fund. “The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable,” the Court explained. “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.”
Judge Leighton, the judge in this case is no rock ribbed conservative either. In September 2010, he struck down the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and became the first judge in the country to order an openly gay service member to be reinstated in the military.
Dude, when Planned Parenthood has lost that guy, you know they’ve gone too far.
Washington is one of only two or three states in the country that requires pharmacies to stock and dispense emergency contraception in violation of conscience. One of the other states, Illinois, recently had its regulations, which are modeled on Washington’s, struck down as unconstitutional in a challenge brought by Becket Fund attorney Mark Rienzi.
You might remember that The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.” On that one, they beat the snot out of the Obama administration. And even though I’m pretty sure Barack doesn’t want a rematch he’s getting one because the Becket Fund is representing Belmont Abbey College, Ave Maria University, Colorado Christian University and EWTN in their suits against the administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate.
Let’s hope the Becket Fund stays on a roll.
I’m pretty sure that by the end of this year, the Obama administration and Planned Parenthood (wait, is that redundant?) are going to be having nightmares featuring the Becket Fund for a while.