Dozens of congressmen have taken sides in a contentious birth control case that could go before the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, 43 members of Congress signed onto an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to come to the rescue of a Christian-owned pharmacy. The pharmacy will go out of business because its owners are disobeying a Washington state law that says they must sell abortifacient drugs.
Washington state passed a law in 2007 that pharmacies must provide emergency contraceptives, like the morning after pill and the week after pill, which many pro-life groups say are equivalent to abortion because they may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the wall of the uterus, effectively killing it.
“Since its founding, the United States has recognized and protected conscience rights,” says the brief, which includes the signatures of the chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. “Even in an area as vital as military service, conscientious objectors’ rights were recognized in the colonies before and during the Revolutionary War. And since that time, rights of conscience have continued to be affirmed and protected throughout American history.”
Stormans Inc., a Washington pharmacy, may go out of business because its owners refuse to obey the law and are now plaintiffs in a legal battle with the state. The two other plaintiffs in the suit are pharmacists, one who lost her job because of her refusal to sell the drugs, and the other who has been told she will lose hers if the regulations are upheld.
The plaintiffs say the law violates their religious beliefs, their consciences and is unconstitutional. But a federal appellate judge ruled against them in July of last year. They appealed to the Supreme Court in January, their last chance of saving the business and the pharmacists’ careers in the state.
“[Under the law,] it’s perfectly legal for a pharmacy to say we’re not going to stock the week after pill because we think its unprofitable or we want to specialize in geriatric drugs and don’t want to stock that drug or even if you run out, that’s fine too, but if you don’t have the drug because your religion forbids you that is illegal,” Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in January. “The actual text of the rule lays out a general obligation that pharmacies have a duty to deliver legal drugs in a timely manner and then has a bunch of exceptions.”
Refusing services based on faith or conscience does not qualify as one of those exceptions — Goodrich told TheDCNF it was designed that way to target religious pharmacists. He said that Planned Parenthood sent people into pharmacies all over the state looking for violators until they finally found Stormans pharmacy.
“Within five miles of [Stormans pharmacy], there are over 30 pharmacies that sell the morning after pill, so it’s undisputed that none of the customers have ever been denied timely access,” Goodrich told TheDCNF.
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