Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Two Day, Two Decisions

The Supreme Court of the United States has made (or sustained) two anti-life decision in the last two days. The more widely publicized decision was declared on Monday, striking down the Texas laws placing restrictions of abortion mills in the state. That law would have closed most (though not all) of the mills in the state--though it would not have prevented new mills from opening which met the restriction in the law.

The second decision was made on Tuesday, and was in fact a decision to decline to hear a case. This was a case which also have direct bearing on the rights of conscience, which are at least hypothetically protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution (a document for which the Left has had no use in general of late). This is a case whose decision should have been obvious from the get-go. The State of Washington insists that all pharmacies must be made to dispense (abortifacent) morning-after and week after "contraceptive" pills; some pharmacists--and indeed, some entire pharmacies--have declined to do so, because it violates their consciences to do so. This is a religious liberty issue to the extent that many of these consciences are religiously formed. The teaching of, for example, the Catholic Church in this matter is pretty clear, especially with regard to week-after pills after which fertilization has almost certainly occurred if their is to be a pregnancy at all.

In this case, the Court did not impose a new law by judicial fiat, but rather refused to hear a case which has been wrongly decided (by the always suspect Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals). There were three dissenters form this refusal: justices Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (the only three remotely objective justices left on the court). They wrote:
This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State. Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case worthy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern…. Ralph’s has raised more than ‘slight suspicion’ that the rules challenged here reflect antipathy toward religious beliefs that do not accord with the views of those holding the levers of government power. I would grant certiorari to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights.”
Also worth noting are the background to this case and the circumstances under which the law was passed:
Margo Thelen, Rhonda Mesler, and the Stormans family have worked in the pharmacy profession for over seventy years. When a customer requests an abortion-inducing drug, they refer the customer to one of over thirty pharmacies within five miles that willingly sell the drugs. For decades, this has been standard pharmacy practice, has been approved by the American Pharmacists Association, and has been legal in all 50 states.

But in 2007, Washington adopted a new law making referrals for reasons of conscience illegal. The law was passed in a cloud of controversy, with then-Governor Christine Gregoire threatening to terminate the State Pharmacy Commission and replacing Commission members with new ones recommended by abortion-rights activists. The law leaves pharmacies free to refer patients elsewhere for a wide variety of reasons related to business, economics, and convenience—but not for reasons of conscience. Because of the law, Margo Thelen lost her job, Rhonda Mesler was threatened with losing hers, and the Stormans family faces the loss of its pharmacy license.
The burning times continue apace.

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