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9th Circuit thwarts Wash. state’s attempt to stall conscience rights

ADF and ADF-allied attorneys prevail in arguing that conscience rights for pharmacists should be respected while state’s appeal proceeds
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TACOMA, Wash. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday that Washington pharmacists’ rights of conscience will be protected while an appeal by state officials who oppose those rights moves forward.  The ruling means that a court order requested by ADF and ADF-allied attorneys to suspend newly-passed state regulations will remain in place.  The regulations forced pharmacies and pharmacists to stock or distribute abortion-inducing drugs regardless of their religious or moral opposition.

“Pharmacists and other health-care workers shouldn’t be punished for abiding by their beliefs. They should never be forced to abandon their pro-life convictions in order to appease a government agenda, even while an appeal moves forward in court,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.  “No one should ever be forced to choose between keeping their career and honoring their faith.”

In November, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a preliminary injunction against the regulations while a lawsuit filed against state officials proceeds.  The state then asked the 9th Circuit to stay the injunction so the regulations would remain in effect during the appeal, but a 9th Circuit panel rejected that request Thursday.

In its decision, the 9th Circuit said the state did not sufficiently demonstrate a lack of availability of abortion-inducing drugs, including the so-called “Plan B” drug, for any woman who wants them.

ADF-allied attorney Kristen Waggoner of the Seattle-based law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry is lead counsel in the case.

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.