Ostrom, The Seattle Times Monday,
July 8, 2013
Pressed to address the many
recent hospital mergers and affiliations with
Catholic health care systems that proscribe some
types of reproductive and end-of-life care, Gov. Jay
Inslee has directed the state to modernize its
process for approving changes in hospital ownership
or delivery of care.
Hospital realignments, although
presented as "affiliations," may be similar to
traditional sales, Inslee said in a recent directive
to the state's Department of Health. Changes in
control of the hospital may affect access to health
services, cost containment or quality of care, he
"I am very concerned for the
potential of these relationships to lead to
restrictions in constitutionally protected care for
Washingtonians," he said in a letter to Kathleen
Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of
Washington, whose organization has taken issue with
potential curbs in services because of affiliations
governed by religion-based health care systems.
Catholic Bishops: Obama's
Solution 'Is Unacceptable'
P. Jeffrey February 11, 2012
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops issued a
statement late on Friday
declaring that the small alteration President Barack Obama
had announced earlier in the day to a regulation that would
force all health-care plans in the United States to cover
sterilizations and all FDA-approved
contraceptives--including those that cause abortion--is
'unacceptable" because, among other things, it does not
protect the freedom-of-conscience rights of secular
for-profit employers, or secular non-profit employers, or
religious insurers, or self-insured religious employers, or
I was thrilled to
learn that Washington State will be
creating new rules for pharmacists who
have conscientious objections to
providing services or products they find
morally objectionable. The new
regulations would give plaintiffs in a
Washington lawsuit -- the owners of
Ralph's Thriftway pharmacy and two
pharmacists -- the right to refuse to
stock or dispense Plan B "morning after
pill" based on their belief that life is
sacred from the moment of conception.
This is a great
turn-around by both the state and the
Pharmacy College Board, which for
several years maintained that
pharmacists’ freedom of conscience had
to be restricted in order to ensure
consumer access to the morning after
pill. Although in 2006 Pharmacy Board
members had unanimously supported a rule
that would protect conscience for
pharmacists and pharmacy owners, an
ideological move by Governor Christine
Gregoire saw their jobs imperilled
should they stick to that position.
pressure, the board adopted new language
mandating pharmacists to stock and
dispense the medication even when doing
so violates their conscience. The board
adopted this regulation even though it
admitted that it found no evidence that
anyone in the state had ever been unable
to obtain Plan B (or any other
time-sensitive medication) due to moral
or religious objections. The Becket
Fund, which came to the defence of the
family owned pharmacy and its two
pharmacists, filed suit to prevent the
new regulation from forcing them out of
Appeals Court Okays Injunction Protecting Pro-Life Pharmacists
Steven Ertelt LifeNews.com Editor
May 1, 2008
Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) -- A federal appeals
court has upheld an injunction in a lower court ruling
that halted a new state requirement forcing pharmacists
to fill prescriptions for all drugs. The mandate
included drugs that would violate their moral or
religious beliefs of pharmacists who don't want to be
involved in abortions.
Washington state pharmacists who are pro-life were
worried they could be forced to dispense the morning
after pill or birth control drugs.
Under pressure from pro-abortion Gov. Chris Gregoire,
the pharmacy board approved the rules in 2007.
Kevin Stormans, who owns pharmacies in the state,
lawsuit along with other pharmacists in July seeking
to overturn the new rules and opt out of dispensing the
Plan B pills.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled that
pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for the
morning after pill or other objectionable drugs if they
refer the customer to another store where they can get
the order filled.
On Thursday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
turned back a request from the state government and
abortion advocates to suspend the judge's preliminary
injunction while their appeal of Judge Leighton's
decision moves forward.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -
Pharmacists must be allowed to refuse to supply
drugs that cause abortion or euthanasia,
Pope Benedict said on Monday, calling on
health professionals to be "conscientious objectors"
against such practices.
The Pope told a convention
of Roman Catholic pharmacists that part of their job
was to help protect human life from conception until
natural death -- the Church teaching that rules out
any deliberate termination of pregnancy or
"It is not possible to
anaesthetize the conscience, for example, when it
comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo
implanting or to cut short someone's life," the Pope
The so-called abortion
pill, which is available in many
European Union countries and has had
regulatory approval in the United States since 2000,
has not been authorized in
US Court Rules Pharmacists Must Have
Rights of Conscience Respected
Lawyer says, “We forced the most pro-abortion Governor in the country to
eat his words and to backtrack a long
By Hilary White
ST. LOUIS, Illinois, October 17, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com)
– The rights of pharmacists and other health care professionals to refuse to
dispense abortifacient drugs have taken a step forward, according to a
statement from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). A long
running dispute between the state of Illinois, pharmacy owners such as
Walgreens and Walmart stores and several pharmacists who refused to dispense
abortifacient drugs has resulted in an agreement that pharmacists must be
allowed to opt out.
In 2005, Walgreens pharmacist Rich Quayle was suspended from his job and
said he would look for other work rather than agree to dispense the morning
after pill in accord with a recently passed law. In April 2005, Governor Rod
Blagojevich said that the “right of conscience does not apply to
pharmacists” and issued an edict attempting to force all pharmacists in the
state to distribute the drugs.
In response the ACLJ filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) alleging that Walgreens engaged in unlawful religious
discrimination by suspending indefinitely Quayle and two of his colleagues
who requested accommodation of their religious objections to dispensing the
By the end of 2005, the ACLJ was involved in a series of interconnected
legal actions in the matter, including suing Walgreens, Walmart and Governor
Blagojevich on behalf of seven pharmacists on the grounds that the
governor’s rule violated pharmacists' constitutional and statutory rights
under Health Care Right of Conscience Act.
The ACLJ issued a media release this week saying that the state of Illinois
has agreed that the Governor’s rule “does not apply to individual
pharmacists, and that the state will never apply it to individual
pharmacists”. ACLJ lawyer Frank Manion said that despite cases still pending
against Walgreens and Walmart, “we've now got his attorney general's office
on our side when it comes to the question of whether or not pharmacists are
covered by the Right of Conscience Act”.
“Considering what we we've been up against in this state, these are all
significant developments,” he wrote.
The governor has “been forced to retreat from his original position” and
recognize pharmacists as health care professionals with a right of
conscientious objection. The state must now find a way to try to acknowledge
their objections and establish a procedure to accommodate most situations.
Manion wrote, “We forced the most pro-abortion Governor in the country to
eat his words and to backtrack a long way from his April 2005 bluster and
we've now got his attorney general's office on our side when it comes to the
question of whether or not pharmacists are covered by the Right of
The question of exactly how the rule will apply is still open but, Manion
writes, “The major question has been settled.”
“Objecting pharmacists cannot be threatened, harassed, or forced to dispense
Plan B against their conscientious convictions without their employers a)
violating the state's Rule; b) violating the Health Care Right of Conscience
Washington Pharmacy Board Examined Pro-Abortion Plan B Complaint
Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com)
-- The state pharmacy board has completed its review of complaints nine
women filed after a local pharmacy denied their request to fill
prescriptions for the morning after pill. Though it closed the
investigation, the debate about Ralph’s Thriftway pharmacy and three others
that refused to fill orders is far from over.
all hailing from Olympia, filed the complaint with the Washington State
Board of Pharmacy in August. The nine women say they had a total of 17
rejections by pharmacies in Olympia and Lacey, Washington when they tried to
purchase the morning after pill. The complaints covered old rules and the
pharmacy board found that Ralph’s Thriftway and the other stores involved
followed a general practice of sending women to other pharmacies when they
wouldn't honor a prescription for the controversial drug. Now, pro-abortion
activists have filed 10 more complaints following new rules that went into
effect in July requiring pharmacists to dispense all drugs, including those
that violate their conscience. As a result, Kevin Stormans, who owns
pharmacies in question, told the Tacoma News Tribune newspaper, “It’s really
not a win."
Read the complete story.
Illinois Court Rules Pharmacists May
Reject Plan B By Peter J. Smith
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, August 3, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com)
- Illinois pharmacists are not obligated to violate their consciences and
dispense Plan-B and "emergency contraceptives" according to this week's
ruling by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Jeanne Scott ruled Tuesday that
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's executive order in April 2005 requiring
pharmacies "without delay" to provide Plan-B and other abortifacient
"emergency contraceptives" mandated store owners to provide it, but did not
mean that pharmacists themselves had to violate their conscience and
religious beliefs by dispensing it.
Scott's decision means that a discrimination
lawsuit by pharmacist Ethan Vandersand can proceed against retail giant
Wal-Mart, which contended it had a legal obligation to punish incompliant
pharmacists under the executive order. Wal-Mart asked for a dismissal of the
case Ethan Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on the basis that Illinois
conscience legislation did not apply to pharmacists or exempt them from
dispensing drugs that conflict with their religious views.
Wal-Mart placed Vandersand on unpaid leave after the pharmacist declined to
dispense Plan B at the Beardstown Wal-Mart pharmacy to a Planned Parenthood
nurse seeking the drug on behalf of a female patient in February 2006.
Justice Scott ruled in favor of Vandersand and his attorneys from the
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who claimed Vandersand was
legally protected from discipline by the Illinois Health Care Right of
Conscience Act and Title VII, which requires employers to accommodate
employees' religious beliefs.
"The statute prohibits discrimination against any person for refusing to
provide health care because of his conscience," Scott said, adding that
providing medication "constitutes health-care services."
"Any person, including Vandersand, who refuses to
participate in any way in providing medication because of his conscience is
protected by the Right of Conscience Act," the US district judge ruled.
Scott's ruling means that Vandersand may proceed
with his case against Wal-Mart under both the Illinois Health Care Right of
Conscience Act and Title VII. Vandersand is seeking lost pay and unspecified
monetary damages against Wal-Mart.
Scott's ruling leaves in place Gov. Blagovich's
executive order that pharmacies provide "emergency contraception", however
it clarifies that pharmacy owners, not pharmacists have to comply with
carrying out the law, and the latter are not obliged to violate their
The ruling validates the objections of the more
than a dozen Illinois pharmacists who have been fired or suspended for
refusing to dispense the drugs on religious or ethical grounds by employers
intent on complying with the executive order.
Washington State for Forcing Them to Sell Morning After Pill
by Elizabeth O'Brien
SEATTLE, Washington, July 27, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two Washington
pharmacists and a pharmacy owner have sued the State of Washington for
trampling on their right to freedom of conscience with the new regulations
forcing pharmacists to dispense the "morning after" pill.
Pharmacists Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen, accompanied by the Stormans Inc.
that owns Ralph's Thriftway in Olympia, filed the lawsuit in the federal
court on Wednesday. They are suing the State for forcing them to choose
"between their livelihoods and their deeply held religious and moral
beliefs," the Associated Press reports. This decision follows a State ruling
earlier this year that took effect on Thursday. The new ruling requires
pharmacists to dispense contraceptives despite any objections of conscience.
Appeals Court Rules Against Pharmacist
Seeking Religious Rights Protection
By Gudrun Schultz
MADISON, Wisconsin, May 9, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The 7th Circuit Court
of Appeals ruled against a Wisconsin pharmacist’s conscience rights May 2,
declaring it would place too great a burden on Wal-Mart to accommodate his
request not to be involved in any way with the distribution of abortifacient
Neil Noesen brought a lawsuit against Medical Staffing Network Inc.,
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and the state of Wisconsin for religious
discrimination over refusing to ensure he would not interact with customers
seeking contraceptive prescriptions.
Objecting to the abortifacient properties of contraceptive prescriptions,
which can cause the death of an unborn baby in the earliest stages of
development by preventing it from implanting in the womb, Noesen sought
permission from his employers to avoid any contact with customers seeking
contraceptives, including telephone requests.
Wal-Mart had agreed that Noesen would not be required to fill or otherwise
handle contraceptive prescriptions, and had conceded that he would only be
asked to serve the needs of male customers or women of non-childbearing age.
Noesen was denied permission to avoid answering the telephone, however,
although he was told he could pass the call to another employee if the
caller wanted contraceptives.
Many people have bought
into the mistaken idea that the dispute over the proposed pharmacist
conscience clause and Plan B is a struggle between religion and women’s
health care. In reality, it is something else entirely. All impartial
observers of the conscience issue need to be aware of the larger context in
which it is moving: An overall strategy by the abortion industry to increase
the number of health care workers performing abortion either voluntarily or
through state or economic coercion.
By CURT WOODWARD
Associated Press Writer
April 13, 2007
SEATTLE (AP) - Druggists who believe
"morning-after" birth control pills are tantamount to abortion can't stand
in the way of a patient's right to the drugs, state regulators have decided.
In a unanimous vote Thursday, the state Board of
Pharmacy ruled that drug stores have a duty to fill lawful prescriptions
despite an individual pharmacist's personal objections to any particular
Pharmacists or drug stores that violate the rules
could face discipline from the board, which has the power to revoke state
The Washington State Catholic Conference and Human
Life Washington, an anti-abortion group, predicted a court challenge, saying
the rule wrongly forces pharmacists to administer medical treatments they
On April 12, 2007 the Board of
Pharmacy unanimously adopted the proposed rules on pharmacist/pharmacies
responsibilities. These new rules recognize the patient's right to receive
safe and appropriate medication without delay. The rules also clearly state
what pharmacists and pharmacies must do to take care of the patient's
These rules will go into effect 31
days after filing with the Washington State Code Reviser's Office.
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The Food and Drug Administration may
have approved sales of the morning after pill over the counter, but some
pharmacists are reluctant to sell the drug. The agency's move to sell
Plan B without a prescription may expand the nationwide debate about a
conscience clause for pharmacists to allow them to opt out of dispensing
Washington state, Jim Ramseth, the owner of Covington Pharmacy, doesn't
want to sell the morning after pill because he believes it can work as
an abortion drug.
Ramseth says he and many of his colleagues believe the drug can prevent
the fertilized human embryo from implanting into her mother's uterus and
begin the growing process. As a result, a unique human being is
"Everybody draws their own lines," Ramseth told the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer arguing for a conscience clause.
"And if a person's purpose is to kill a fertilized egg, then I disagree
with that. Regardless of where the practitioner draws that line, they
should have the right," he added.
someone asks him for the drug, he would give them a sheet of 11 nearby
pharmacies and tell customers they need to find another store that
don't know exactly who's carrying it because I'm not going to call and
find out," he told the newspaper. "I believe people should be
responsible for themselves. They can make a phone call."
When told that, in Illinois and Massachusetts, pharmacies have been
forced to stock the morning after pill, he called government decisions
"As a professional, the pharmacist should be able to draw their own line
as to where they want to participate in patents' care -- much like any
other medical profession," Ramseth explained. "We've all sat side by
side with patients and counseled them on things we felt were
inappropriate in some manner."
Ramseth also says there is very little customer demand for the drug and
he's reluctant to purchase a large quantity of the Plan B pills and have
them sit on the shelves.
Other pharmacists, such as Jerry Leonard, pharmacy director at Drug
Emporium in Charleston, West Virginia, are worried about other issues
resulting from over the counter sales.
"We still don't know where it (should be) kept," he told the Charleston
Daily Mail newspaper. "We have to look at risk management issues and we
need to know where is the liability if there are complications, which
certainly could be more than with your average over-the-counter
"At this point, we are not moving or taking any steps at all toward
making it available until after we've clarified what the potential
problems or liabilities might be," he added.
Leonard echoed Ramseth's comments by saying that customers at his store
aren't asking for the morning after pill.
"We've never stocked the drug, not because we have any corporate problem
with it, but just because we've never had the demand," he said.
Jeff Fulks, a pharmacist at Bee Well Pharmacy in South Charleston, is
another who has moral concerns about the morning after pill.
"It interferes with conception, and if it's a situation where it
interferes with life, then they're still going to have a difficult time
getting me to distribute it," he told the newspaper.
With so many pharmacists have logistical, business or moral concerns
about the drug, the drumbeat for conscience clauses and exceptions to
requirements to sell it may get louder as state legislatures head back
into session next year following the elections.
Pharmacy Board Backs Off Pharmacist Conscience Clause
by Steven Ertelt LifeNews.com Editor
July 20, 2006
WA (LifeNews.com) -- After coming under fire from
pro-abortion lawmakers and activists, the Washington
state pharmacy board is backing away from its proposal
to grant pharmacists a conscience clause that would
allow them to opt out of dispensing drugs such as the
morning after pill, which may cause an abortion.
announced the proposal earlier this year, but voted
unanimously on Thursday to reconsider the wording of it
at its August meeting, where it was expected to be
wanted to have more discussion about the draft and
decide if they may want to make any changes based on all
the feedback they've been receiving," Steve Saxe,
executive director of the board, told the Seattle
Gov. Threatens Pharmacy Board Over Conscience Clause
by Steven Ertelt
June 6, 2006
Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com)
-- Washington Governor Christine Gregoire
threatened members of the state's pharmacy board on Monday after they
approved a limited pharmacist's conscience clause last week.
The board said pharmacists should be allowed to opt out of dispensing
drugs that violate their moral or religious beliefs as long as they
refer the customer to another pharmacist or pharmacy.
Pharmacists can opt out of filling the prescription but cannot
"obstruct a patient in obtaining a lawfully prescribed drug or device"
and must assist the customer in finding a timely alternative.
Gregoire has adamantly opposed any kind of legal protections for the
rights of pharmacists and threatened members of the board.
Saying the board "made a mistake," the governor warned that the state
legislature could overrule the Pharmacy Board's guidelines or even
replace members of the board who supported the conscience clause.
Pro-life groups support a conscience clause because they want
pharmacists to be able to opt out of dispensing drugs such as the
morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.
According to a report in the Olympian newspaper, the governor said she
was exploring her legal options on how to change the conscience clause
by the August vote.
"I want to work through the process. I want this corrected. I wanted
it done right in August. If it's not, I will do what is necessary to
correct it," Gregoire said.
She and abortion advocacy groups favor a mandate forcing pharmacists
to fill all legal prescriptions, even for abortion-causing drugs,
similar to one Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich put in place there. He has
come under fire for his executive order and pharmacists have filed
three lawsuits against him to overturn it.
C.J. Kahler, past president of the Washington State Pharmacy
Association, told AP that his group favors the board's preliminary
"The patient needs to get the medication they need; the pharmacist
needs to be able to practice within their conscience limits. This
allows both,… he said.
Washington is one of a handful of states nationwide to allow over the
counter sales of the morning after pill, which pro-life observers say
makes it more important to have a pharmacists' conscience clause.
Also, pharmacists say a conscience clause is needed.
Daphne McBreen of Seattle said it's not difficult for a customer to
get another pharmacist to fill a prescription.
Jeffery Williams, a pharmacist with Saint Francis Hospital in Federal
Way, agreed and told the board, "Suppression of conscience is coercion
The board backed the limited conscience clause on a 5-0 vote.
A step closer to letting pharmacists
refuse to give morning-after pill
By Cara Solomon Seattle Times staff reporter
TUMWATER — The state Board of Pharmacy on Thursday
took a step toward allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency
contraceptives or other medication on moral grounds, provided they don't
"obstruct" patients from getting that medication.
At the heart of the controversy is the emergency
contraceptive pill, commonly called Plan B or morning-after pill, which some
equate with abortion.
Some pharmacists called the newest proposal, which
came after months of input from the public, a fair compromise on a sensitive
topic. But women's-health advocates, including Planned Parenthood and the
Northwest Women's Law Center, said the language was too vague to protect
patients from discrimination. And Gov. Christine Gregoire immediately
renewed her objections.
"I expect the board to develop rules that provide
clear guidance and protection to the public," Gregoire said in a statement.
"It is my hope that the board will develop rules that put patients first."
The proposal, which the pharmacy board approved
unanimously for consideration, is slated for a public hearing Aug 31. Then
the board will vote again, this time whether to adopt the rule.
Re: Pharmacists Right of Conscientious Objection in the
Performance of Duties
Dear Members of the Board of Pharmacy,
Our political action committee, LifePac of SW
Washington, is deeply concerned about the right of Washington pharmacists to
exercise their moral conscience in the performance of professional duties. The
current issue before you focuses on abortifacient "emergency contraception"
drugs. The next dilemma may involve medications for assisted suicide or death
penalty executions. And there are other situations where medical treatments in
the coming years will be ethically contentious.
Looking at the matter historically, the right of
religious freedom is written into the Constitution of the United States. For a
customer to be refused a certain drug from a pharmacy or pharmacist may be a
matter of inconvenience, but it is a violation of fundamental freedom and
natural liberty for the pharmacist to be compelled to fill a prescription
against his or her moral conscience.
Planned Parenthood and the NW Women's Law Center
suggested what they call a "win-win" solution to this problem at the March 10th
Board meeting in Kent, WA. That solution was, in essence:
- customer asks for drug
- customer gets drug from same facility, no matter
We propose instead:
- customer asks for drug
- if pharmacy or pharmacist objects, then
- customer receives contact information for 5 nearest
Planned Parenthood's advertising for the "Emergency
Contraception" drug, now rolling on buses in Clark County, states "EC prevents
pregnancy after sex. Take within 5 days." This five-day period of drug efficacy
makes it hard to believe that a pharmacy or pharmacist refusal would constitute
an "emergency" for the individual customer. He or she can go to another location
(or to Planned Parenthood) if the initial one does not dispense. Pictures of
these advertisements are posted online at www.LifePac.org.
We ask for your careful consideration of this matter
involving the right of moral freedom and conscience in the performance of
professional duties by Washington pharmacists.
for Planned Parenthood this issue centers on the dispensing of
abortifacient birth control pills of different types. Clearly,
as lawmakers in different states are showing, there is a wide
understanding, and no consensus, on when the human life of
pre-born individuals should be recognized in law. In
particular, the pill regimen known as “Emergency Contraception”
is designed to work in ways that can lead to the death of a
pre-born human individual through depletion of the mother’s
endometrial layer of the uterus. Thus, the prescribing,
dispensing and taking of Emergency Contraception pills is
tantamount to intentionally causing the death of newly conceived
human individual—the moral question being whether or not this
human individual already has rights of its own.
are complex and are the basis of difficult choices for both
consumers of medical services and medical professionals. Do we
require all doctors to perform surgical abortions? No. Do we
require all nurses to carry out death penalty executions by
injection? No. Neither should Washington pharmacists be forced
to comply with scenarios that fall under similar moral
principles, such as the dispensation of drugs for which the
known purpose is to kill.
indicate your support of a pro-conscience position to the
membership of the Board by contacting:
The pro-conscience clause showing
at the March 10 State Pharmacy Board meeting was excellent. Over 100 people
filled the room at the State Board of Health offices in Kent, WA and well
over 80% appeared to be on the side of the pharmacists. Of the speakers who
volunteered public comments, 2 sided with the Planned Parenthood on the
issue and at least 12 supported the right to conscientious objection for
The pro-conscience clause speakers were a mix of pharmacists, medical
doctors, pharmacy students, a representative from the Washington Catholic
Bishops office, attorneys, homemakers and other pro-life activists.
Notice how Planned Parenthood markets "Emergency Contraception" on the back
of buses in Vancouver, WA. If the drug works for "5 days after sex," then
should a pharmacy or pharmacist refusal be such an emergency? Please
continue to pray and send word to the Board and the Governor that
pharmacists should not be compelled to go along with Planned Parenthood's
false version of morality.
Should pharmacists be allowed to turn away
06:09 PM PST on Sunday,
March 12, 2006
SEATTLE - The Washington State Board of
Pharmacy is considering a proposal that would allow pharmacists to
refuse to fill prescriptions like emergency contraception on moral,
religious or ethical grounds.
Backers like Rod Shafer, executive director of
the Washington State Pharmacy Association, argue that pharmacists should
have the right to decline work that conflicts with their beliefs as long
as they respect the patient
Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, has sent the
pharmacy board a letter opposing the proposal. At a public hearing in
Kent last Friday, most of the more than 100 people who showed up spoke
out in favor of it.