Stormans v. Wiesman

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Description:  For four generations, Kevin Stormans’ family has owned Ralph’s Thriftway, a store located in Washington state. Regulations passed by the Washington State Pharmacy Board in mid-2007 mandated that pharmacies like Ralph’s Thriftway must stock and dispense the “morning-after” pill if requested by a patient. Stormans chose not to stock the product in his pharmacy after reading research demonstrating that the pill can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, an early-stage abortion procedure which Stormans opposes on religious, moral, and ethical grounds. Stormans, Inc., and two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, who work elsewhere, are challenging the regulations in federal court.  Read more >>

ADF: Govt shouldn’t force Christian pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs

Lead counsel arguing on behalf of pharmacy, pharmacists available to media following 9th Circuit hearing


Attorney sound bite:  Kristen Waggoner

Video news release (with and without CGs)
WHO: ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Legal Services Kristen K. Waggoner
WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in Stormans v. Wiesman
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 20, following hearing, which begins at 2 p.m. PST
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, 700 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – Kristen K. Waggoner, lead counsel representing a pharmacy owner and two pharmacists opposed to Washington state regulations that would force them to dispense drugs that can terminate human life after conception, will be available for media interviews Thursday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“No one should be forced to choose between their religious convictions and their family-owned businesses and livelihoods. This choice is neither necessary nor constitutional,” said Waggoner, senior vice president of legal services for Alliance Defending Freedom and counsel with Seattle-based Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC. “The premier medical and pharmaceutical associations all support the right of a provider to refer patients. No other state has a law this extreme, and the district court noted that these drugs are widely accessible throughout the state.”

After a 12-day trial that concluded in 2012, a federal district court in Washington suspended the state’s regulations. The ruling permitted the two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, and the owners of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia to continue to refer customers rather than sell the drugs Plan B and ella.
The district court found that the state adopted its new regulations “primarily (if not solely)” to ban religiously motivated referrals while the state, at the same time, permits pharmacies to refrain from stocking and delivering drugs for “almost unlimited” business, economic, and convenience reasons. The state and attorneys from Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit.
In its opinion, the district court wrote, “The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable. They were designed instead to force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted. The rules are unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and former 10th Circuit Judge Michael McConnell are also co-counsel in the case, Stormans v. Wiesman, originally named Stormans v. Selecky.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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Additional resources: Stormans v. Wiesman

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Previous news releases:

  • 2014-08-01: US Supreme Court win supports Wash. pharmacist case
  • 2012-02-22: Court: Wash. pharmacists can’t be forced to violate their consciences
  • 2010-07-14: Patients’ health, pharmacists’ conscience protected in Wash., court agrees to halt trial
  • 2008-07-07: ADF attorney available to media following ‘right of conscience’ hearing
  • 2008-05-02: 9th Circuit thwarts Wash. state’s attempt to stall conscience rights
  • 2007-11-08: Court stops enforcement of Wash. regulations targeting pharmacists, pharmacies who don’t stock abortion drugs
  • 2007-09-25: ADF-allied attorneys available to the media following hearing on Washington “right of conscience” case
  • 2007-07-27: ADF: Health care providers should not be forced to distribute abortion-inducing drugs in Washington State
  • 2006-03-14: ADF defends right of conscience for pharmacists

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