We told you (and told you, and told you) that
we would triumph! After nearly a decade, our case involving pharmacies' refusal to fill contraception prescriptions, Stormans v. Wiesman (formerly Stormans v. Selecky), was decided today by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in our clients' favor - in your favor
decision in the case - in which an Olympia-based pharmacy and two pharmacists asserted that filling prescriptions for emergency contraception violated their religious freedom - upheld the constitutionality of Pharmacy Board rules requiring all pharmacies to fill all lawful prescriptions without discrimination or delay.
No one is above the law.
Beginning in 2005, we advocated before the Washington Board of Pharmacy for these rules and, once the rules were challenged in court in 2007, we intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of five women of reproductive age and two HIV-positive patients to ensure all patients' access to safe, legal, and necessary health care. We have been pushing for and defending these rules for the last 10 years.
In today's unanimous decision, the 9th Circuit carefully analyzed the rules and found them neutral, applicable to everyone, and not intended to discriminate against anyone's religious beliefs. The Court also recognized that "speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception and many other medications. The time taken to travel to another pharmacy, especially in rural areas where pharmacies are sparse, may reduce the efficacy of those drugs."
This win today protects all patients and makes clear that religious belief does not trump public health and safety - or the rights of women to obtain needed reproductive health care. Today's ruling is important not only to women seeking emergency contraception, but also to our LGBTQ allies, who may be seeking hormone therapy, or individuals seeking medication for still highly stigmatized HIV/AIDS. The decision strikes back against the onslaught of "religious refusals" that we see too often today.
We could not have done this without the passion and dedication of our Stormans team: Tom Boeder, Andrew Greene and Katherine Bennett of Perkins Coie, Molly Terwilliger, Nancy Sapiro, Sara Ainsworth, Rima Alaily, our own Janet Chung, Laura Einstein and our allies at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, and YOU. You have stood with us through these long, often hard 10 years so that we could see this day. You believed in us while our case was being bounced between courts and seemed like it would never end. We didn't give up and neither did you. We can't thank you enough for your
Lisa M. Stone