Pharmacists are obliged to dispense the Plan B pill, even if they are personally opposed to the "morning after" contraceptive on religious grounds, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.Lest you think the 9th Circuit is staffed by zany socialists, the three judges were comprised of one liberal Clinton appointee and two conservatives appointed by George W. Bush—all three of whom nonetheless agreed that freedom of religion "does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability."
In a case that could affect policy across the western U.S., a supermarket pharmacy owner in Olympia, Wash., failed in a bid to block 2007 regulations that required all Washington pharmacies to stock and dispense the pills.
…[A temporary injunction from the U.S. District Court in Seattle pending trial on the constitutionality of the regulations] prevented state officials from penalizing pharmacists who refused to dispense Plan B as long as they referred consumers to a nearby pharmacy where it was available.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction, saying the district court was wrong in issuing it based on an erroneous finding that the rules violated the free exercise of religion clause of the U.S. Constitution.
…Although the courts have yet to pronounce judgment on other aspects of the lawsuit, the unanimous ruling on the free-exercise clause could portend further judgments, as the case moves forward, that a patient's right to timely medication supersedes a pharmacist's personal convictions.
"Any refusal to dispense -- regardless of whether it is motivated by religion, morals, conscience, ethics, discriminatory prejudices, or personal distaste for a patient -- violates the rules," the panel said.And seeking permission to break those rules, to get on-the-job exemptions from primary duties based on religious beliefs, is, as I've said before, nothing less than the "special rights" conservatives are incessantly accusing the LGBTQI community, women, and/or people of color of seeking, despite the reality that members of those groups just want baseline equality. Christians who want to use their individualistic interpretation of the Bible to rewrite their job descriptions want an inequality that caters to their personal whims. Privilege me.
I'm extremely relieved that the 9th Circuit said: No.