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Medical Groups File Brief Support Washington State Pharmacists’ Conscience Rights

November 21, 2012. For Immediate Release

Kim Colby, Christian Legal Society, (703) 894-1087
Dorinda C. Bordlee, Bioethics Defense Fund, (504) 231-7234

November 21, 2012. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. San Francisco, CA – Five associations of Christian medical professionals filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend pharmacists against a Washington State regulation that would force pharmacists in that state to dispense abortion-inducing drugs despite their religious and moral convictions.

“At a time when there is a critical shortage of pharmacists, a regulation that forces pharmacists to choose between their jobs and their religious beliefs needlessly threatens the health care of all citizens of Washington State,” explained Kim Colby, senior counsel for Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom.

Attorneys Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee of the Bioethics Defense Fund consulted with embryologist Maureen L. Condic, PhD in order to advise the court of the science of how the drugs terminate the life of a human being at the embryonic stage of development.  The brief also sets forth basis of the sanctity of human life ethic of the Catholic Church and Christian denominations upon which the Pharmacists base their conscience objections.

In February 2012, a federal district court declared Washington State’s regulation unconstitutional because it violated the pharmacists’ federal right to freely exercise their religion. The regulation unconstitutionally targets pharmacists’ religious objections to dispensing abortifacients, even though any pharmacist may refuse to dispense any drug for various nonreligious reasons. “Singling out religious beliefs for prohibition, while leaving non-religious beliefs unrestricted, is unconstitutional,” explained Colby.

The brief filed today urges the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s liberty-respecting decision. The friend-of-the-court brief filed in Stormans v. Selecky was joined by Christian Medical Association, American Association of ProLife Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, and Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International.

The brief was prepared by attorneys at the Bioethics Defense Fund ( and the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom ( The Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian attorneys, law students, and law professors.

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