Freedom of Religious Expression Endangered In Washington State

by lewwaters

Every campaign, politicians stand before us telling us what they think we want to hear in order to gain our votes. Democrat, Republican or Independent, all think they will gain our support with just a little tickling of our ears. Occasionally though, one will lower their guard just a bit and those with a discerning ear might just pick up on what the real candidate thinks or stands for.

Such is the case now with Democrat candidate for Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee.

Most of my readers know that I am not very supportive of Democrats, but before you write this off as just another piece opposing Democrats, I urge you to read on and see how not only Jay Inslee, but outgoing governor Christine Gregoire actually opposes your First Amendment right to Free Religious Expression.

As most know by now, a controversial legal case on the state mandating a Pharmacist stock and dispense the “morning-after pill” was decided in favor of the Pharmacist by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma February 22, 2012.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy required the Pharmacies and Pharmacists, under pressure from unnamed state officials and Planned Parenthood, to sell the drug or face losing their license.

The Pharmacists filed suit against the regulation in 2007, claiming that dispensing a drug designed to terminate a pregnancy was against their religious beliefs.

In his decision, Judge Leighton wrote,

“The board’s rules were designed 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’.”

Indicating a strong possibility of appealing Judge Leighton’s ruling, Governor Gregoire issued a statement saying,

“The purpose of the Board of Pharmacy rule is to ensure safe and timely access to lawful and lawfully prescribed medications, with particular concern about time sensitive medications. I remain concerned about the impacts on patients if pharmacies are allowed to refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed or lawful medications to patients. I am especially concerned about those living in rural areas, many of whom may have few alternatives and could suffer lengthy delays in receiving medication or go without entirely.

“My position in the matter has been clear from the start, and that is that patients should be provided with lawful and lawfully prescribed medications.

“Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, the Attorney General’s Office and I will confer regarding the best path forward to ensure patients have access to medications, especially those that are time sensitive. There are strong arguments to make on appeal from this lower court decision.”

That the current governor would consider appealing the ruling comes a no surprise. But Jay Inslee, the man who would be our next governor if chosen by voter issued a statement and with much stronger wording. He stated,

“It is beyond reason that women are still forced to battle for something as basic as contraception in the year 2012. We just witnessed the Republican Party’s attack on women in the recent House hearing on copay-free contraception, and now this federal ruling that would allow pharmacists to deny contraception to women in crisis. This is not a battle over religious freedom – it’s a battle to let science guide our discourse instead of ideology. This ruling must be aggressively challenged and women’s full access to contraception restored and protected.”

Let me repeat that one sentence, “This is not a battle over religious freedom – it’s a battle to let science guide our discourse instead of ideology.”

Does it escape Jay Inslee that people do have and hold deep religious beliefs? It is a cornerstone of our Republic and a large part of why our founding fathers came to this land centuries ago to establish a land where people no longer feared a tyrannical government imposed religion.

We saw this same attitude from these same people in the run-up to their approving homosexual marriage recently. While they touted exemptions for clergy to be required to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies, amendments to extend those exemptions to others, non-clergy, private businesses, citizens who cater to weddings, photographers and such who may also not wish to participate in or assist in a homosexual marriage ceremony due to any deeply held religious belief you may have was defeated.

To the state of Washington currently, your religious beliefs come behind their belief in science. Your conscience is of no importance to them as their belief in scientific views is to be imposed upon you.

As Judge Leighton expressed, even though there are several secular exemptions permitted to not dispense the drug, your religious view was not to be allowed to decline dispensing it.

Such an egregious violation of religious views held must not be allowed. It’s not like this particular Pharmacy is the only place such a drug could be purchased. There are more Pharmacies than we can shake a stick at in Washington. Planned Parenthood could make the drug available too, since they have no aversion to killing an unborn child or a woman who engaged in unprotected sex and fears becoming pregnant could obtain it from a hospital. There is no shortage of their ability to obtain the pill, even if a few stand on their religious view to not sell it.

Attorney General and Republican candidate for Governor, Ron McKenna previously expressed support of the states view that they have supersede religious objections to selling this abortion pill. As of this posting, I find no statement from him or his campaign as to whether he would support an appeal or allow Judge Leighton’s ruling to stand if he were governor.

Conservative Republican candidate for Governor, Shahram Hadian issued a press release in support of Judge Leighton’s decision here

Judge Leighton’s decision referenced how the state does not require doctors to participate in assisted suicides, abortions or even executions. He also referenced that the US Supreme Court has not established a constitutional definition of exactly when life begins, but the Plaintiff’s in this case sincerely believe they know that answer and are compelled to act accordingly.

He then notes the state argues that their “sincere belief about an issue at the core of their religion is not entitled to constitutional protection, but is instead granted (or not) as a matter of legislative grace.”

We cannot and must not permit elected politicians to determine and mandate what our beliefs, if any are.

22 Comments to “Freedom of Religious Expression Endangered In Washington State”

  1. Quite aside from any religious question, why the hell should any private business be forced to sell anything they don’t want to sell, regardless of reason? I sure don’t want the government dictating what products my company sells!

  2. Lefties have totally peverted “science” and “laws” in their efforts to turn America into a Socialist dictatorship. “Science” and “laws” have become a total joke thanks to these selfish bastards. It’s about time that the arrogant S.O.B.’s were stopped in their tracks.

  3. Since when should a pharmacists religious beliefs be more important than allowing a lawfully prescribed drug to be given to a customer? This is exactly when government is needed to step in and meet it’s obligation to protect individual rights of those seeking a lawful drug in a perfectly lawful manner. If a person that is a pharmacist has religious beliefs that could potentially endanger their religious expression, then maybe they should enter a different profession. For example, some Seventh Day Adventists will not work on Saturdays. A company doesn’t have a legal obligation to change the rules for these employees who can’t work Saturdays. Those individuals aren’t available to meet the attendance requirements of the job, thus they are not employed by that company or for the position that requires Saturday work hours.

  4. Ever since doctors were granted the right to decline performing abortions, assisting in suicides or performing executions, Mike.

    Do you want government mandating what a retailer must stock and sell?

    What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” permits religious expression to be subject to “legislative grace?”

    Do you not realize that such legislative attitude could take a 180 degree turn if members of a religious sect became the majority and legislated that you would attend their church or tithe to it?

    Your Seventh Day Adventist analogy is weak. Those that declare their religious belief precludes their working on a certain day seek jobs where their view i accepted and employers do accommodate them.

    There is no shortage of facilities where someone may obtain this abortion pill if they want it. Why legislate peoples religious belief to dispense it if it violates as mall few consciences?

    Where is your tolerance?

  5. Mike, I like to buy my groceries at the local Chuck’s organic foods store. That store is owned by 7th day adventists, so they close all day Saturday. Personally I find that mildly annoying and grouse about it, but it is their absolute right, and if I need something that day I go to Safeway. I also buy lots of supplies for my business from B&H Photo in NYC. They are orthodox jews and close on all sorts of inconvenient religious holidays. That’s their right too. Why is a pharmacy, or any other private business, any different?

  6. If a woman is too stupid to make plans for herself when she has unprotected sex why is it incumbent on the pharmacologist to watch out for her?

    As has been stated by others, there are a multitude of outlets for these kinds of pills. If the woman lives in a town where there’s only one vendor, and that vendor won’t carry the pill, shouldn’t she have made plans, or failing that, make plans to obtain the pill in another location? Towns in Washington are not so far apart – even in sparsely populated areas, where it would be impossible for the woman to obtain the pill within 12 – 24 hours.

  7. Lew you really think employers should be picking and choosing what they cover on insurance? I would much rather have the “big bad boogie man government” regulating the insurance industry, setting baseline standards, enforcement, etc. then private for-profit companies picking and choosing which illness they will cover. At least we can hold our government accountable to some extent.

  8. It’s interesting that the Democrats have launched another culture war just before the election cycle begins in earnest. Abortion, gay marriage, assaulting religious liberties etc..

    Here are a few interesting headlines:
    Defense of Marriage Act ruled unconstitutional
    Pentagon defended Bible burning in 2009
    Iran launches Bible-buring campaign
    Afghanis kill 2 US soldiers over Koran burning

    Now why would the Democrats launch a culture war just before an election???

  9. mike,

    I would venture to say that what we “think employers should be picking and choosing on what the cover on insurance” is irrelevant.

    It’s not for any of us, including you, to pass judgment on what coverages employers provide their employees, particularly since they don’t have to provide ANY coverages.

    So, in that regard, I don’t care what employers cover or don’t, since you, as the employee, can always quit if you don’t like it.

    Since you asked.

  10. Mike, employers already “pick and choose” insurance coverage, if they even offer it.

    This decision is not about insurance companies, but government forcing people to act against their religious beliefs.

    What I find curious, you would demand people sell this pill against a religious conscience, but you state no objections nor does the state raise any objections over Pharmacists not selling it due to secular objections as noted by Judge Leighton when he said, “The board’s rules were designed 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’.”

    Where is yours, governor Gregoire or Jay Inslee’s outrage there? This suit ignored those exemption and focused only on religious beliefs.

    Do you not see any danger there?

  11. Lew. I do see where you are coming, it is a hard balance….secular laws vs. religious beliefs.

  12. I am approached each time I fill a prescription and asked if I fully understand the complications, side effects, and dosages for the drug. Some of my prescriptions are not available at the local costco or walgreens and I must drive into Portland to a small pharmacist on Burnside to get B12 shots or anything else that is a compound mix. If the local boys don’t have to carry B12 then why should they be forced to carry anything they don’t prefer to.
    This is about convenience? NOT!
    It is however about deciding what we can and cannot do. Another not so subtle encroachment on liberty.

  13. Carolyn, Judge Leighton made a very similar observation when he wrote, “The board’s rules were designed 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’.”

    But Jay Inslee’s comment should be of grave concern to everybody when he said, “This is not a battle over religious freedom – it’s a battle to let science guide our discourse instead of ideology.”

    “sincere belief about an issue at the core of their religion is not entitled to constitutional protection, but is instead granted (or not) as a matter of legislative grace.”

    The Judge also noted the states argument centered on “sincere belief about an issue at the core of their religion is not entitled to constitutional protection, but is instead granted (or not) as a matter of legislative grace.”

    I see nothing in “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” that places religious beliefs under “legislative grace” instead of the constitution.

    If this decision is appealed, we must take a strong stand and not sit back.

  14. Hey, science IS my religion – I recognize that – apparently Jay Inslee does not.

    There may be legal reasons why a pharmacy MUST supply a drug, some corner-case when no other option is available, but it’s not because of religion (science), it’s because when private organizations operate in a public capacity they have additional societal obligations. Let the secular courts figure it out.

  15. Why should it be fought out at all, Martin? Do you support mandating Jewish or Muslim Delis to carry, handle and serve Ham or Pork Chops?

    Aren’t they private organizations operating in a public capacity?

    Why should government be allowed to decide what any private business stocks and sells?

    And, if as Judge Leighton noted, secular exemptions exist to deny dispensing the drug and are not being fought, the argument on a religious basis seems to fall flat and becomes more of a witch hunt.

  16. Lew, are you equating lox & bagels to important pharmaceuticals?

    The Capitalist/Government deal is: if private business can’t do it then Government will. Would you rather Government got into pharmacy business?

    Frankly, I’m not as sure of myself as you are – that’s why I let The Courts work these things out.

  17. I’m relating freedom of religious expression to freedom of religious expression.

    If you haven’t, please read the Judges decision and note where he sees the state was violating the Pharmacies freedom or religious expression.

    As an attorney, I would think his noting that the state argument that Plaintiffs “sincere belief about an issue at the core of their religion is not entitled to constitutional protection, but is instead granted (or not) as a matter of legislative grace” would anger you that they took this to court.

    Do you not see that if our beliefs are ever subject to “legislative grace,” a change in power could mandate people practice a religion as well?

    And why single out religious belief when he also notes the state has no problem with the secular exemptions to selling the drug?

    I’m not an attorney and I can see gross violations of our rights and freedoms.

    BTW, government is already in the Pharmacy business 😉

    But, I am very curious as to where Rob McKenna sits on this now.

  18. Lew, let’s say there was only ONE pharmacy in the state and the owner was Christian Scientist who would stock nothing but prayer books and aspirin? (Can Christian Scientists take aspirin?)

    p.s. The reason there was only ONE pharmacy is because there wasn’t enough profit – or there were tornados – or it was a monopoly – or whatever.

  19. Martin, would you argue “what-if’s” before a Judge?

    The fact is that there are quite possibly thousands of pharmacies in Washington State. 2 or 3 have expressed a religious objection.

    In the past, I’ve had to visit another pharmacy for a prescription medicine because the then well-known pharmacy I was dealing with didn’t handle that particular medicine. Should I have sued? They didn’t stock it because they didn’t have large calling for it. And again, if the state allows exemptions to dispensing it based on secular reasons, how is it proper to not allow in the case a religious value as well?

    That isn’t what-if, it is a reality noted by the Judge in his decision.

  20. Lew, maybe I wasn’t clear: I agree with the judge IN THIS CASE.

  21. That’s good to know, Martin. My apologies for misreading your words.

  22. Martin was just trying to play the “Devil’s Pharmacist”, Lew.

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