Christian Pharmacists Have to Stock Plan B

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/pharmacists-have-to-...

Excerpts from the author Emma Green:

Two years later, a pharmacy chain in Washington state, Stormans Inc., which operates a store in Olympia called Ralph’s Thriftway, has been denied a hearing before the Supreme Court. The pharmacy’s owners, along with two other pharmacists who are also plaintiffs in the case, Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman, refused to stock emergency contraception, including Plan B and ella, for religious reasons—they believe the pills are effectively abortifacients. Long-standing state regulations require Washington pharmacies to stock a “representative assortment of drugs in order to meet the pharmaceutical needs of ... patients.” The requirements were updated in 2007, specifying that pharmacies must deliver all FDA-approved drugs to customers; they can’t refer people to get medication at a different location for any kind of religious or moral reasons.

Many people saw this as major religious-liberty case. Five national pharmacists’ associations, along with state pharmacists’ associations from 33 states, filed a brief calling on the Supreme Court to take the case. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision effectively eliminated pharmacists’ right not to participate in actions they conscientiously oppose, even though a ‘right of conscience’ has always been integral to the ethical practice of pharmacy,” they wrote. They argued that while state regulations allow individual pharmacists to refuse to dispense certain drugs, small pharmacies might be unable to afford to keep multiple pharmacists on staff to accommodate these objectors. The associations also argued that the decision impedes on pharmacy owners’ ability to make ethical and business decisions about what they sell.

In his dissent to the Court’s denial of cert, Alito said it was “ominous” that the Court did not “deem the case worthy of our time.” Advocacy groups have specifically sought out pharmacies that have religious objections to Plan B in order to file complaints, he said, citing evidence from the district-court filings; Ralph’s Thriftway alone was the subject of some two dozen complaints between 2006 and 2015. “If this is a sign of how religious-liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead,” Alito wrote, “those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

On the other side, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case. “When a woman walks into a pharmacy, she should not fear being turned away because of the religious beliefs of the owner or the person behind the counter,” the organization’s deputy legal director, Louise Melling, said in an emailed statement. “Open for business means opens for all. Refusing someone service because of who they are … amounts to discrimination, plain and simple.”

At its conceptual core, that’s what this case is about: whether religious business owners and employees should be able to refuse to provide contraceptives to women, even when state regulations require them to do so. Legally speaking, though, the case also tees up a number of complicated questions that could have potentially informed future lower-court cases on religious freedom, had the Supreme Court taken it on. The most important issue is this: In the case of a law or regulation like Washington’s, does the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment require the government to make exceptions for religious objectors?

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

Comments

Christian Scientists that didn't believe in medicine denied their son insulin because they said prayer would fix him. He got sicker, so they prayed harder, and he died. Their second child killed by 'willful neglect' aka religion. IL took their other 2 kids away for their health.

'What's the harm?' documents the number of people killed based on visions in their heads, like schizophrenia. I can't believe Joe Smith sold a bunch of people on some new nonsense that was after science had identified the solar system and planets. L Ron Hubbard is better than Trump at rooking rubes time after time.

Maher asked his panel if some story of a virgin birth was on twitter would anyone believe it? Then rose from the dead but disappeared.

The perfect Christian god must have skipped the class on pancreases.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

While I agree that pharmacists have no right to censor behavior by refusing sale of this product and that the religious nuts should butt out, I also think there may be legal challenges looming from another quarter here.

Pharmacies are retailers, and it's problematic for the government to tell any retailer exactly which legally sold products they must or must not stock. If, in fact, these religious nut pharmacists stock this product and it does end up just sitting in their inventories to the point where it must be thrown away due to its expiration dates having been reached, the government would probably be on the hook to reimburse the pharmacies, as retailers, for their dollars-and-cents losses on whatever they've paid the wholesalers (pharmaceutical companies) for it. If the government should lose such lawsuits, we, the taxpayers, would be reimbursing the pharmacies for the cost of the unsold product. Not a desirable outcome.

Ulysses's picture
Ulysses
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Your examples are flawed.

The Christian pharmacists (not Christian scientists) in question here have offered to refer a prescription holder to another pharmacy that will supply the drug. As I understand it, there is no shortage of pharmacies in Washington state willing to supply the drug.

I would imagine most of the readers and posters on this forum would be sympathetic, for example, to conscientious objectors for military service. In my opinion, there really is no difference between the pharmacists in question and conscientious objectors to the military.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

So in order to prevent an unwanted pregancy the very day it occurs and is still only an egg, the Christian thing is to have her wait to 24 weeks to abort?

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160704-baby-animals-start-learning-before-they-are-even-born is a fascinating pre-natal learning study.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

That decision is up to the woman. In this case, the pharmacists were simply registering their concerns about issuing the drug and offered to refer the patients to other pharmacists who would supply the drug.

I understand there could be problems in the future if this occured in a rural area where it was literally impossible for a patient to get to another store. But that was not what happened in this particular court case.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am
Quote Coalage1:

I understand there could be problems in the future if this occured in a rural area where it was literally impossible for a patient to get to another store. But that was not what happened in this particular court case.

The law, however, relies on established precedent in deciding future cases. So, if the precedent-setting case is flawed and does not encompass contingencies such as this, all future decisions will be rendered based on this flawed precedent, including decisions in which the incomplete, flawed precedent should not apply.

Ulysses's picture
Ulysses
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

From the original article:

Many people saw this as a major religious-liberty case. Five national pharmacists’ associations, along with state pharmacists’ associations from 33 states, filed a brief calling on the Supreme Court to take the case. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision effectively eliminated pharmacists’ right not to participate in actions they conscientiously oppose, even though a ‘right of conscience’ has always been integral to the ethical practice of pharmacy,” they wrote. They argued that while state regulations allow individual pharmacists to refuse to dispense certain drugs, small pharmacies might be unable to afford to keep multiple pharmacists on staff to accommodate these objectors. The associations also argued that the decision impedes on pharmacy owners’ ability to make ethical and business decisions about what they sell.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

Actually coalage I think your conscientious objector analogy gives merit to the decision. Consider; that status disqualified an individual from partaking in any way shape or form participation in behalf of the military, ergo if a pharmacy owner or pharmacist had any moral reservations in the service of that job.......then they are exempt from contributing anything toward that job period.

ie. not fit for duty.

Or put another way, they should find something else to do.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

I dont think so. I think its "over the top" enforcement.

Coalage1
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Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

How's that? Is it a legally traded commodity or not? That is the only moral decision to be made by someone in that position. Anything after that they in essence are forcing their moral decisions upon someone else.

And it disqualifies that individual or company from doing that job when they force their morals onto any others outside of themselves.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

That is not the only consideration. CVS stores decided to quit selling cigarettes which are still legal. If I was a smoker, should I then not be able to sue CVS for not stocking cigs? Its a legally traded commodity, isn't it?

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

As I lite up another Camel non-filter I'm with you on that law suit. Think you can get standing in a court of law with that argument? Somehow I doubt it as it doesn't really pass the smell test does it. Was it religious issue? Or was it a public health decision? Hey, maybe I can start a cult, er a religion, that commands it's sin not to use tobacco. Let's start the law suit now!

Come now coalage you can do better than that, you know damn well you're trying to equate apples to oranges with that example. Let's try this, you walk into the CVS because you need some new blades for the razor and while there you note and pick up that brandie new sparkle nail polish the young daughter has been on about. And so putting you in a gifting mood while walking by a locked cabinet you spy a bottle of L'Air Du Temps your wife would love. You stand by till someone comes and unlocks the Plexiglas door.....finally you make it to the check out line. See where this is going?

Yep, the cashier is a Seventh Day Advent, and she/he can't or won't morally contribute to your sinful ways, the manager is off for dinner break and won't be back for at least an hour. And no they are the only one on duty. He/she can cash out the razor blades for ya though. Yeah there's another store around the block though that'll sell the same products! So no problem, right?

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Frankly, no I do not see where this is going. You say that the pharmacist in question has to sell the drug in question, whether he finds it objectionable or not, because it it a legal commodity. Cigarettes are a legal commodity as well. The fact that they may pose a health risk for some people is beside the point. They are legal to buy if you are of age. To me, if CVS can refuse to sell a legal product, for whatever reason, why can't this pharmacist exercise the same right? I see no difference whatsoever.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

No coalage, because whatever you say the pharmacist is no more than a cashier. Perhaps more highly trained, but when push comes to shove they are just a cashier.

Now then if you can make the case that CVS is dictating my health against my well being because of their religious objections to my use of tobacco I'll bet we can get the SOTUS to go along with the idea and get the cigs back on the shelf. I say that as I lite another Camel non-filter. When can I expect your tithe to my 'religion'?

The/a pharmacy is an extention of the public health system. The SOTUS decided that the public health over rides any individual religious objections. It's that simple.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

I believe that line of thought to be faulty reasoning. A pharmacy, wihile participating in the public domain, is usually privately owned.

If any business, such as CVS, can choose not to sell a legal commodity, why can't the pharmacy make that same choice? Grocery stores, for example, sell certain brands of food, and not others. I know where I live, the Kroger chain sells certain lines of items that Walmart does not stock. Why should I not be able to force WM to stock that item? Under your line of thought, I should not be inconvenienced by having to travel to different stores to get the food brands that I want. Under certain dietary restrictions, I could even claim it might be a matter of my health.

You seem to believe that because the product in question is a drug, that puts in a different class subject to different interpretations. Why? Tobacco (nicotine) could be considered a drug.

In the case of the pharmacy, and the SC decision, I think the SC in essence ruled against the pharmacy because it involved the progressive/liberal third rail of abortion. I certainly cannot see any other "logical" reason that this ruling makes sense.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

I suppose one could be forgiven for mistaking a 'general store' for a 'drug store' these days. If you're old enough. You'll remember when drug store's only auxiliary enterprise was a soda fountain. Then they progessed photos.....then I remember that's here pops could go to test tv or radio tubes himself when the set didn't work properly. But the primary business was DRUGS.

I repeat coalage, the pharmacy or drug store for better or worse is an extension of the general health care of this nation. Most of what they sell are products that are closely regulated but needed for the health of the nation as a whole. The DRUG store doesn't get a say what they feel is good for the health of it's 'customers' because the license to 'deal' in controlled substances is the oversight the feds, ie. us, the people.

By your logic I should be able to deal in pot, peyote, mescaline and LSD with a little opium on the side with no oversight.

On a lighter note, I think today's drug stores are missing out on a big opportunity, they should have gambling areas for the folks after they score their drugs. Or perhaps a drug store for after they finish losing their cash. Either way win win!

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Thanks RS for the comments. I don't agree with your take on the issue but I appreciate your thoughts just the same.

Coalage1
Joined:
Mar. 14, 2012 8:11 am

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