Health Care Conscience Cases Loom

Sacramento, CA – Two closely-watched cases involving the conscientious rights of doctors and pharmacists have been scheduled for argument within the next few weeks.

Pacific Justice Institute filed an amicus brief last week with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, where pharmacists are seeking protection from a Washington law requiring them to dispense the “Plan B” abortifacient drug. A lower federal court ruled in favor of the pharmacists, allowing them to refer patients to other pharmacists who do not have moral objections to selling the drugs. The court cited a lack of evidence that anyone in Washington had ever been unable to obtain Plan B within 72 hours because a pharmacist refused to provide it. The Ninth Circuit has expedited the case and will hear arguments June 3 in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for May 28 in North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, et al., v. Superior Court, where two doctors are accused of violating California’s civil rights law because they declined to artificially inseminate an unmarried, lesbian woman. The doctors instead referred her to another physician – at their own expense – who provided the services. The woman suing the doctors now has several children but claims she was offended and discriminated against. Pacific Justice Institute filed an amicus brief on behalf of the doctors, supporting their rights of conscience. The case has been pending at the California Supreme Court for nearly two years.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “It is appalling that radical abortion and homosexual-rights activists would rather force pharmacists and doctors to leave the medical field than allow them to follow their consciences. More than ever, we need health care professionals who understand that life is sacred.”