Contraceptive mandate and the First Amendment

On Wednesday, the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington issued an opinion in Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky concerning the above.   As it is unlikely that you will hear about this case from the main stream media, I thought this post appropriate.

In the State of Washington, as I suppose it is in many states, pharmacies are required to stock and dispense drugs. If a pharmacy doesn’t have a particular drug, for whatever reason, the pharmacy must refer the patient to another pharmacy that carries that drug.  In Washington, until 2007, a pharmacy, or a pharmacist could refuse to stock or dispense the Plan B emergency contraception (i.e., the ‘morning after pill”) for reasons of conscience, and instead direct the patient to a nearby pharmacy that had the drug.

Not so after 2007.  The Washington Board of Pharmacy issued a rule prohibiting any pharmacy from not distributing, in this case, the morning after pill, for “reasons of conscience”…secret code for religious beliefs.  The Stormans hold such religious beliefs, and they refused to comply.  Instead, they did what they had always done…refer patients to a nearby pharmacy that would dispense the morning after pill.

But, for the “pro choice” groups, such as Planned Parenthood, that wasn’t good enough.  Let me add, parenthetically, how can a group call itself “pro choice” when, in this case, it seeks only to stop the choice of the Stormans?

After discussing “access to contraceptives” (a term we have heard a great deal about recently), the court found that the rule requiring all pharmacies to distribute Plan B contraceptives violated the freedom of religion rights granted by our First Amendment.

The opinion is some 96 pages long, and, interesting, I suppose, only if you are an attorney, but, if nothing else, please go to page 87 and learn what the “pro choice” folks will do to make sure that your only “choice” is their choice.  No, let me tell you what the court found:

 a. In accordance with both the National and State Pharmacy Association, the Board originally voted in favor of accommodating conscientious objections.

b. Within hours of the Board’s pro-conscience vote, the Governor [of Washington] and Planned Parenthood set in motion a plan to reverse the Board’s decision. The Governor publicly threatened to replace members of the Board, and the Governor, based on the unprecedented participation of Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice advocates in the Board interview process, did, in fact, refuse to reappoint Board Chair Awan.

c. The Governor’s own handwritten notes indicate her primary concern was ensuring the Regulations were “clean enough for the advocates [ i.e., Planned Parenthood] re: conscious/moral issues.”

d. The Governor ultimately advocated a draft regulation that prohibited conscience based referrals.

e. To ensure her victory, the Governor personally called the Board Chair to pressure him to pass her Regulations, after she had advised her staff that calling Board members was unlawful.

f. When the Chair resisted, the Governor replaced him with appointees recommended by Planned Parenthood.

g. Neither the Board nor the Governor ever researched access to Plan B (or any other drug) before passing the Regulations. The Board never identified a single incident in which a patient was unable to gain timely access to Plan B. And its post hoc survey of access to Plan B showed that there was no problem of access.

The lengths to which the left will go to deny rights while proclaiming that they are in favor of rights seems to be endless.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Dimsdale on February 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    They name streets after liberals: ONE WAY.

    • johnboy111 on February 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      also tell us”?no right turn”

    • Fish on February 24, 2012 at 6:19 am

      Not only are those streets one way, they all go downhill. 🙂

  2. crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Better than those streets being proposed where you can only drive in reverse, taking us back 50 years. The elimination of child labor laws, taking away weekends and the 40 hour work week.? And the “big government” Repubs sticking their nose into women’s contraception so they will be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

      LOL!? Show me where a single Republican has proposed ANY of that!!
      And the only one sticking his nose into contraception is Big Brother ?bama.
      Better reverse than headlong into socialism/communism!

    • crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 7:52 am

      Dimsdale, I just read that the righties were screaming before the Kennedy election that, if elected,? he will abide by the wishes of the pope rather than the constitution. Now, they are trashing Obama for following the constitution and not the pope!

    • Fish on February 24, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Do you have a different copy of the constitution than I do? Mine is the one for the United States of America.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Then you should be equally alarmed by the insinuations made against Romney’s Mormon religion by liberals….

    • Sal on February 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Crystal I don’t hear anyone? asking Obama to follow the pope only asking Obama to let those who want to follow the Pope to do so

    • phil on February 24, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    • SoundOffSister on February 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      I’m sorry, Crystal, but the Republicans weren’t “sticking their nose” into contraceptives.? No one was even speaking about that topic until the President’s recent edict.? Then again, he can’t run on the economy, or gas prices, or the housing market, or unemployment, or anything that actually is important to this country, can he?

    • crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      Well, I’m sorry, but the administration came back with…Ok you don’t have to pay for it…the insurance companies have to cover it….done..they aren’t happy!? (Not all, some Catholic leaders are satisfied with the compromise and I commend those who are for being adult about this.)
      And the argument that it will cost us all more money doesn’t fly….so don’t give it to me. It prevents abortions and pregnancies and other health issues which are much more costly in the end.
      I have to remind you that the hospitals and schools are secular in that they rely heavily on public funds. They employ people of all faiths. This is as ridiculous as saying that anyone employed in these institutions cannot attend a protestant church because they (the bishops) believe doing so is sinful.?
      I seriously can’t believe they are still pouting!!! Well, boo freakin woo.

    • crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Amendment I of the Constitution?s Bill of Rights states: ?Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof??
      AND Amendment IX further states: ?The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.?
      ?Forcing your religious views on people of other faiths. Clear violation of the constitution.

    • SoundOffSister on February 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Crystal, three questions…
      1) where do you think insurance companies get their money from?
      2) how can the President, under our Constitution,?mandate that insurance companies give us free contraceptives?? Could he mandate that oil companies give us?”free” gasoline?
      3) what part of “prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]” is confusing?

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      I have another question: if you work for the government, can you still go to church, or are you now “secular”?
      The church isn’t forcing its view on anyone, and by your own figuring, apparently isn’t forcing it on its own members, presuming the 90+% of Catholic women using contraceptives.? The government, on the other hand, is forcing its views on the church, expressly prohibited in the Constitution.

    • crystal4 on February 25, 2012 at 5:29 am

      Sos: 1. I answered that and in answer to 1 and 2: If The health Care Act can mandate that insurance cos. have to cover pre-existing conditions, why can’t they ask to have BC covered?? 3. No one is interfering with their exercise of freedom of religion..they can preach to their followers anything they want..the violation is imposing their beliefs on others.
      “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them?or against the people you hire?on the basis of their religion.” Obama

    • Dimsdale on February 25, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Is there a church tenet against pre-existing conditions?
      A statement by ? is not law, or even correct, just because he says it.

  3. winnie on February 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Crystal, you crack me up.? This story has nothing to do with republicans denying “contraception” to women and forcing them back into the kitchen, barefoot & pregnant.
    It has everything to do with the DEMS sticking their noses into small business and demanding that someone carry merchandise that goes against their conscience to carry.? And it has everything to do with the hypocrisy of the left who wants choice in the form of abortion and contraception but at the same time wants to deny choice to small business owners.
    I find it ironic that the left associates themselves with choice, but only relative to birth control and abortion.? If you choose to have children and you didn’t abort them, there are an awful lot of lefty women out there who will look down their noses at you and dismiss you in a social situation because you’re *just* a stay-at-home-mom.? And I really love those liberal hags in high-powered positions who have kids just to hand them over during infancy for a nanny to raise.
    As far as being barefoot & pregnant and chained to the kitchen:? if that’s all you think motherhood consists of, Crystal, I gotta wonder if you have kids…because you just demeaned the calling of motherhood in a huge way…

    • crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 7:37 am

      I never “look down” on anybody….unlike you.

    • winnie on February 24, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Crystal, if you’re going to “quote” me, use the terminology I used.? For the record, the definition of demean:
      Cause a severe loss in the dignity of and respect for (someone or something).
      What I took issue with was your “d-e-m-e-a-n-i-n-g” of motherhood.? You threw down the gauntlet when you stated that republicans (whom you clearly “look down” on) are “sticking their nose into women?s contraception so they will be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.”? Doesn’t appear that you look too highly upon motherhood just based on that statement alone.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Wow!? You are right!? Don’t be so derogatory about mothers, crystal.

    • crystal4 on February 24, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Sorry, I meant the extreme Repub pols. I was just thinking that I have as many R friends as D friends. The R friends I have don’t run around all day with their panties in a bunch and I can’t picture any of them throwing around the word “libtards” or trying to prove to me that they are “holier than thou”.

    • winnie on February 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Hmmm…I’ve never used the word “libtard” and the only person I ever see using it on this site is you, Crystal, as you try to make a point that liberals are better than republicans.
      And as far as having panties in a bunch?? It’s the feminists who are making themselves victims of nothing:? abortion is legal and contraception is available literally EVERYwhere.? They need to get over it already.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Again, exactly which Republicans are demanding that women “be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.”????? Names, please.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

      In an earlier post, you noted that your drinking buddies had “their panties in a bunch” about this topic…

    • winnie on February 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Dims, who’s the republican fool that’s trying to take away my right to wear shoes???

  4. sammy22 on February 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I believe that liberals do not need to insinuate anything about Mr. Romney Mormonism. The Christian Fundamentalists, hardly a liberal group, are doing it.

    • Dimsdale on February 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Of course, and they are being aided by the media and the liberals.? The point is that this has no place in the discussion, yet crystal thought it did.

    • winnie on February 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      The big issue last election was race (thanks to the media)…this election it’s going to be religion and birth control (thanks to the media AND obama).? Maybe some people out there are myopic and one dimensional enough to fall for this media ploy to distract us from what’s really afoot in this country, but anyone who’s paying attention to what it now costs to survive gets it and sees the media for what they are:? obama’s useful idiots.

    • crystal4 on February 25, 2012 at 6:40 am

      WTH are you talking about? It was the topic of the debate, campaign stumps…etc. Obama compromised, but they couldn’t let it go. The candidates and the GOP feel their shot is to get the extreme right wing voters…taking a lesson from the Bush playbook when he appealed to the evangelicals.
      They cannot run on their record of solutions for the economy…they had/have none.
      By the way, where are the “jobs, jobs, jobs” bills your freshmen ran on in 2010, Boehner?

    • Dimsdale on February 25, 2012 at 9:14 am

      It is so hard to keep up with your grasping for straws to build your strawmen….

    • winnie on February 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Oh, for crying out loud, Crystal…For the umpteenth and final time (let me say it_slowly_)…

      The_republicans_in_the_house_can_pass_any_jobs_legislation_they_want_but_HARRY_REID_has_ to_bring_it_up_for_a_vote_in_the_SENATE_in_order_for_it_to_even_get_to_Obama’s_desk.?

      What part of our government structure do you *not* understand????? Gridlock is coming from the Senate…so don’t tell me Obama is the great compromiser when it’s his party that has control of the senate.?

  5. Lynn on February 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Are we having fun yet?

    • winnie on February 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

      *beating*head*on*desk*? — astonishing.

  6. sammy22 on February 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Sorry, winnie, but your rant about the Senate is cop-out. The House keeps bringing up “solutions” that they know are unacceptable in the Senate, and dig their heels in.

    • crystal4 on February 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Lesseeee, apart from all the bills deregulating corporations and cutting unemployment and further lowing corp. taxes…I DID find some that would add to jobs, Sammy.
      Many bills were for stripping the EPA’s ability to regulate pesticides, fungicides,? some air and water pollutants, etc.
      Think of the jobs in hospitals,,,respiratory care, especially in the pediatric units that would be created!

    • Sal on February 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Why is it most bills that you are against are going to cause massive? sickness and death? the pipeline from Canada will be full of leak s and companies are just waiting to use pesticides and fungicides and make the air and water unhealthy I thought you didn’t like when scare tactics were used I guess you have no problem using them just asking

    • winnie on February 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Sammy, hardly a rant and hardly a cop-out.? I was simply explaining the structure of our government to someone who consistently thinks that the House is failing in regard to jobs legislation.? Why should House republicans craft liberal legislation?? Did Obama & the Senate give a hoot about the House republicans when it came to passing Obamacare?? Newp.
      Gridlock this time around is due to the democrats owning the WH and the Senate.? Can’t get around it.? The House could come up with the most awesomely awesome jobs bill known to mankind and Harry Reid would spit on it.

    • Dimsdale on February 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      The real cop out here is the refusal of the Senate to produce a constitutionally required budget.
      How is that the Republicans fault??

  7. JBS on February 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Let’s be crystal clear here: the Regime, ?bama, the DNC, liberals, etc, all want everyone in a tizzy talking about this issue. It DOES diffuse attention from ?bama’s ruinous and dismal tenure as a president.
    That said, once the Dems have made an issue out of contraception, et al, then the question has to be addressed: does any religious organization or group that has objections to buying health insurance that provides for contraception, simply accept that mandate from ?bama? Why? To let it stand would set a very unhealthy precedent. Anyone who adheres to the Constitution has to object!
    The only reason to pick a fight with the Catholics and those who would object is to obfuscate and confuse the situation. ?bama chose this battle only because he needs to take the focus off of this horrible record. He is tearing this country apart, which suits his socialist agenda. (Give the people something to worry about.)
    I look for ?bama to intercede in this matter. He contrived it, he let everyone chase his or her own tail, he will step in as the great arbiter. ?bama will “compromise”; it will be crafted so that he will be seen as the only adult in the room, the only rational being around. And,…

  8. sammy22 on February 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Winnie, I believe that part of the “art” of governing is to compromise. The beloved Founding Fathers knew how to compromise and did it. The current crop of Republicans (and Democrats, if you wish) know how to compromise and won’t. Both sides are at fault.

    • Dimsdale on February 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      I believe compromise died with the 2000 election.

    • Lynn on February 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Me too, Whoever thought I would miss “Tip” O’Neil.

    • winnie on February 26, 2012 at 11:15 am

      If compromise means that my guys have to legislate like your guys, then compromise needs to be dead, otherwise we’d be a one-party system and no one would have a choice except for maybe the feminists.

  9. kateinmaine on February 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

    i’m very excited about the redefinition of ‘imposing/mandating agenda/will’ as ‘compromise’–imagine the possibilities if we can find repubs like dems–with half a brain and half a pair!? oh, wait–they’re already there.? never mind.??
    and regarding the thread, sounds like the wa gov is old-school tammany–is that recall and/or criminal worthy??? none of this is worth the fog it’s created.? birth control is not ‘health care’–in fact, it creates health issues (not to mention a dearth of future taxpayers–another ‘unintended consequence’).? religious beliefs are not subject to gov’t fiat or compromise.? the gov’t? cannot decree what products/services private companies can/cannot manufacture/sell–that is between the company and the market.? step away from the rhetoric/talking points and look at the specifics without bias or emotion– you may be surprised at what you discover.

  10. sammy22 on February 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I see advocacy of a system with one party in charge of Congress and the WH. You don’t like the term “compromise”? Even with the despised Obamacare, if Congress had not come up w/ compromises there would be a single payer system.

    • Lynn on February 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Sammy, the despised Obamacare, will make a single payer system in a few short years, if it remains the same. That is why I despise it. I know that we don’t know what the final acceptable policy under Obamacare will be, since Congress still hasn’t read it. There has been enough talk of required mandates, we do know that insurance co. will not be able to provide them with an “affordable” premium.? So, the govt. will designate a provider supplemented by the govt. to do this. Voila, all other co. will go out of business and we have a single payer system. If, the Democrats? had only listened to Republicans and compromised, they would have made insurance co. sell across state lines and allowed competition and non-mandated policies, we might still have private companies make affordable insurance policies.

    • Dimsdale on February 27, 2012 at 10:18 am

      You mean like the one party systems in China and the old Soviet Union (and maybe the new one too, if Putin has his way)?

  11. Lynn on February 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    While I’m at it. President Obama is so lucky, none of us stayed with the original name of the abominable Obamacare bill, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010”. It would have reminded the sheep? that the “reform” was to lower the cost of Healthcare. The CBO has estimated that premiums will cost much more than the present premiums and vastly higher than what? President Obama promised. Sammy, my compromise is that a Republican, Rep. Snowe is responsible for most of the mandates. Never trust a RINO.

    • crystal4 on February 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Not true. Here is a test..Romneycare? slowed the increase in MA>
      “From 2006 to 2010, employer-sponsored health-care premiums for a family rose about 19% in Massachusetts, while they rose about 22% in the US as a whole,” [Fred Bauer] writes. “Compare that to the period between 2002 and 2006, when Bay State family premiums increased 40% and US family premiums rose only 34.5%.” Individual premiums have also been growing more slowly than the national average.

    • Linda Mae on February 28, 2012 at 1:53 am

      Hi, there,
      Apparently you haven’t studied the MA issue completely.? My family lives there – some in the medical field, some getting (or trying to get) medical care.? Not a pretty picture.? Costs are out of sight.? Yes, they were able to afford a few things because the Federal government paid for it!!! Those federal dollars are gone and now things are really bad.? We read that we pay too much for health care when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world.? That is easy.? Some countries give you a band aid while we give you a ride in Life Star if you are in a horrendous accident and need to get to the hospital rather quickly.? That is why we pay more for health care – we get more – much more.?
      MA is a good state to study so that we do not do what they do and find ourselves in their problem.? Oh, wait, they are using Obama care lite!? We wanted to reduce costs,, keep your own doctor and your own policy and insure everyone.? Well – even the president has admitted that costs will go up, you won’t be able to keep your own doctor, and everyone is NOT going to be insured!? I believe him. ? I am working with a young lady who just spent 20 years working in Spain – (she’s from Peru) and she was complaining about…

    • Lynn on February 28, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Statistics, can be used to prove anything. Do you have any facts concerning how many people are simply paying the penalty and NOT buying any insurance? Staggering

    • Dimsdale on February 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Interesting reading: Five painful healthcare lessons from Massachusetts (

  12. Lynn on February 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    OK, this will be put in archives tomorrow. Therefore, I can say,? that if the Democrats compromised with the Republicans? there never would have been waivers given to so many Unions and other Democrat contributors. Also Congress never should have exempted themselves from this travesty. The End

    • SoundOffSister on February 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      No, Lynn,
      “The End” is when people believe that the words??”‘…or prohibiting the free exercise [of religion…]” have no meaning.
      Are we there yet?

    • Dimsdale on February 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      I think we are slouching, no sprinting (since 2007) towards Gomorrah.? And for the record, I don’t recall that there was one iota of compromise in the passage of ?bamacare.? Unless you count the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase etc. of course.? But that was just rank bribery among the Democrats.

    • Lynn on February 27, 2012 at 7:17 am

      SOS, I don’t know, darn close. One good thing President Obama has done, is make a lapsed Church goer consider praying again. If President Obama is sent back to being a Community organizer in 2012, I might consider going to church again. Dare I say it…. The Devil made me do it! Lol


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