By Elizabeth O’Brien

  SEATTLE, Washington, July 27, 2007 ( – 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.

  The regulations, adopted by the Board of Pharmacy and the State, demand that pharmacy owners provide and dispense contraceptives as long as a customer requests the drug. The law does not consider religious views or reservations of conscience as legitimate excuses for not providing the pill. A pharmacist can only opt out of filling out the prescription if a co-worker will do it for them. As Washington KNDO/KNDU reports, the new law gives a customer the “right” to contraceptives, a right that supersedes the pharmacists own right to freedom of conscience.

  The plaintiffs believe that “human life begins with fertilization and that only God should determine the beginning and end of life,” the Olympian reports. In addition, the lawsuit argues that the new pharmacy rules contradict the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids religious discrimination against employees. The rules also fail to take into account small pharmacies that do not have enough staff to fill in and dispense contraceptives for those employees who decide to refrain on grounds of conscience.

  The Board of Pharmacy adopted the new regulations after complaints were being made that pharmacists were refusing to fill out prescriptions for contraceptives such as the Plan B “emergency contraception. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plan B last August as an over the counter contraceptive. It became available to women over 18 who provide ID while minors needed to obtain a prescription from the doctor. Pro-lifers have vehemently opposed the drug, however, because it also acts as an abortifacient, preventing already fertilized eggs from implanting on the lining of the uterus.

  In a letter to the Seattle Times this April, Seattle Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, voiced his indignation at a demeaning cartoon published by the Times that ridiculed the Catholic Church’s opposition to Plan B. Referring to the controversy over the Pharmacy Board’s ruling, Brunett stated, “the debate is not about the church imposing its views.  Opposition to the rule by believers and non-believers alike is based on the right of conscience, a right affirmed in our federal and state constitutions.”

  He emphatically underlined the point once again, saying, “First, the Church does not seek to impose its views in the public square, but it does insist on the right of conscience.  The pharmacy board has undermined this time-tested American principle.”

  To express support to Stormans, Inc.:
  Phone: 360-754-2203
  Email: [email protected]

  To contact the Governor’s office and respectfully voice concerns:

  Governor Chris Gregoire
  Office of the Governor
  PO Box 40002
  Olympia, WA 98504-0002
  Phone: (360) 902-4111
  Fax: (360) 753-4110
  Email via “web form”:

  Previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  ACLJ to Defend Two Pharmacists Fired for Refusing to Provide Abortifacients

  Plan B Manufacturer for New Zealand Admits it Causes Abortion

  US Pharmacists Battle over Forced Dispensation of Abortion Drugs