AAPS Supports Conscience Rights in Stormans


AAPS joined an amicus brief supporting a petition for writ of certiorari in Stormans v. Wiesman. Pharmacist-petitioners are challenging a Washington State law that requires pharmacies to stock “emergency contraceptives.” Pharmacists argue that while they may lawfully decline to provide drugs for a variety of other reasons, they may not exercise a conscience objection to drugs they believe to end a human life. The Ninth Circuit upheld the law, stating that the pharmacists’ asserted right was not “objectively” established. Amici present the scientific evidence that a unique human life begins at conception, and that the drugs in question likely act by preventing its implantation—“a self-directed process of attaching to the uterine lining,” which is necessary for obtaining nourishment (http://tinyurl.com/hg3adrn).

Defenders of the law argue that it is justified in order to assure access to services that are legal even if morally objectionable to some. However, a brief filed by 4,609 individual medical professionals argues that the law could ultimately impede access to medications because “compelling healthcare workers to participate in treatments that violate their religious conscience will tend to deter otherwise well-qualified and compassionate individuals from entering the pharmacy profession” (http://tinyurl.com/zvldps5).

“This rejection of well-established professional norms severely threatens the conscience rights of all pharmacists—not just those who oppose emergency contraception.” Many pharmacists object to participation in capital punishment or physician-assisted suicide. Amici also note that “the reproductive rights movement was built on the ideal of personal choice.”

Link to AAPS Brief: http://aapsonline.org/judicial/aaps-amicus-stormans-2-4-2016.pdf

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