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Americans United for Life: Ninth Circuit Ruling on Pharmacists Endangers Fundamental Freedoms

CHICAGO, July 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fundamental American freedoms suffered a blow on Wednesday when the Ninth Circuit ruled that an administrative rule of the Washington Board of Pharmacy took precedence over individual freedom of conscience.

The Ninth Circuit's decision in Stormans v. Selecky, overturning a lower-court decision blocking a draconian rule of the Washington Board of Pharmacy, means pharmacists in Washington will now be forced to provide RU-486 (the abortion pill), Plan B (the "morning-after" pill), and contraceptives without regard to their religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. The lower court had enjoined the rule while litigation over the rule's constitutionality continued.

AUL President & CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest said of the decision, "When a state steps in and forces healthcare professionals to provide services contrary to their religious, moral, or ethical beliefs, it is a loss for liberty and undermines the Constitution itself."

AUL assisted the plaintiffs' attorney in coordinating amicus brief support and also filed a brief on behalf of nineteen Washington Senators and Representatives, arguing that the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions provide strong freedom of conscience protections for all healthcare professionals. The brief also demonstrated that the Washington state officials blatantly ignored a long-standing state law protecting freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals.

AUL's brief is available at

AUL Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke said, "This is a tremendous blow to the medical profession. When health-care professionals have to choose between their livelihood and their deepest-held beliefs, we lose qualified health-care providers who are already in short supply in many parts of the nation. This is not the type of 'health-care reform' that we need."

AUL Staff Counsel Mailee Smith added, "The court erroneously concluded that the Board of Pharmacy's rule does not target conscientious pharmacists, despite the fact that the rule was promulgated as a direct result of Gov. Christine Gregoire's threat to remove the entire board if it allowed religious accommodation. There is no question that the rule was aimed at pharmacists' moral and religious beliefs."

About Americans United for Life

Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law. The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971. The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS' Frontline program chronicled AUL's successful efforts in Mississippi.

SOURCE Americans United for Life
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