Opinion

Washington State’s message to pro-life pharmacists: Get out

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The state of Washington has a message for pro-life pharmacists: Get out. The Supreme Court doesn’t object.

Greg Stormans and his family run a pharmacy in Olympia, Washington. Greg says “the principle of valuing human life” is what guides their business, so they’ve always refrained from selling abortifacients. Their governor didn’t like that.

Under her orders, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy compelled pharmacists to supply abortifacient drugs–regardless of their beliefs. Thirty other pharmacies operate within five miles of the Stormans, and the state conceded they posed no threat to consumers. Nevertheless, the family lost when their case went before the Ninth Circuit. This week, the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal.

While there are plenty of secular reasons to be pro-life, the Kormans are inspired by their faith. When criticizing the majority’s refusal, Justice Alito warned that, “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.”

Keep in mind, the Constitution specifically guarantees freedom of religion, and yet SCOTUS didn’t think this case was worth addressing. Compare that with how it handles a “right” the Constitution says nothing about.

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In Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun said the constitutional “right of privacy” protects abortion. Where’s that right listed? It’s not. Blackmun acknowledged “the Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.”

Still, he cited over a dozen cases where “the Court or individual Justices had indeed, found at least the roots of that right”–they just forgot to mention it. But even if such a right were hidden somewhere in the Constitution, why would it protect abortion? Simple: Blackmun said so.

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

If this seems a little arbitrary, there’s a reason for that: It is.

Not only did the Court discover a new right, it also found new ways to protect it. While third parties are generally precluded from suing to protect the rights of someone else, SCOTUS makes an exception for abortion.

That’s why the abortion chain Whole Woman’s Health (WWH) could argue Texas’ medical safety standards would “unduly burden” women’s access to abortion. The Court accepted this contention, despite it being outfits like WWH that prompted those measures in the first place.

Four out of WWH’s five facilities in the state were cited for multiple health violations. At its center in Beaumont, WWH was caught using suction machines with “numerous rusty spots” that carried “the likelihood to cause infection.”

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When writing his dissent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Justice Thomas noted, “The Court employs a different approach to rights that it favors.” That needs to change.

Pro-lifers can help by reminding the presidential candidates how important judicial appointments are. Senators should understand it as well. Because if Washington state wants to send a message to pro-lifers, we need to send one back.

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