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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christian medical groups defend pharmacists in conscience court case

November 20, 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  Kim Colby, Senior Counsel, (703) 894-1087

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Christian medical professionals filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend pharmacists against a regulation that would force Washington State pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs despite their religious and moral convictions.  “At a time when there is a critical shortage of pharmacists, a regulation that forces pharmacists to choose between their jobs and their religious beliefs needlessly threatens the health care of all citizens of Washington State,” explained Kim Colby, Senior Counsel for Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
In February 2012, a federal district court declared Washington State’s regulation unconstitutional because it violated the pharmacists’ federal right to freely exercise their religion.  The regulation unconstitutionally targets pharmacists’ religious objections to dispensing abortifacients, even though any pharmacist may refuse to dispense any drug for various nonreligious reasons.  Singling out religious beliefs for prohibition, while leaving non-religious beliefs unrestricted, is unconstitutional.  The state appealed the district court decision. The brief filed today urges the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s liberty-respecting decision. 
In a national survey, over nine in ten (91%) of faith-based physicians indicated, "I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience." Protecting faith-based health care professionals should be a top-priority in order to insure health care access for millions of Americans --especially the poor and medically underserved patients who are most likely to count on faith-based health care.
The friend-of-the-court brief was joined by Christian Medical Association, American Association of ProLife Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, and Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International.  The brief was prepared by attorneys at the Bioethics Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
The Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian attorneys, law students, and law professors.   

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