Women won two more big victories from the Supreme Court this week when it allowed Washington state to require pharmacies to dispense Plan B or other emergency contraceptives and rejected appeals from Mississippi and Wisconsin seeking to put in place restrictions on abortion clinics that were struck down by lower courts.
One ruling rejected an appeal from pharmacists who said they have religious objections to providing the drugs while the second refused to hear appeals involving laws that would have forced doctors who perform abortions at clinics in the two states to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the AP reported.
Women Finally Win
When it comes to religious freedom, maybe pharmacists should either keep their religious beliefs to themselves or find another profession that doesn’t put them in a key role with respect to dispensing medicine prescribed by a doctor to a patient that can help them.
The AP reported that the justices’ order on Tuesday leaves in place rules first adopted in 2007 following reports that some women had been denied access to emergency contraceptives that are effective when taken within a few days of unprotected sex. Pharmacies must fill lawful prescriptions, but individual pharmacists with moral objections can refer patients to another pharmacist at the same store.
The case was brought by a Ralph’s Thriftway pharmacy in Olympia, Washington, and two pharmacists who sued, claiming the rules required them to violate their religious beliefs. Pharmacists ought to think about whether their religious beliefs or the health of their patients is more important to them. If it’s the former, they ought to be pre-screen from even becoming pharmacists in order to avoid them suddenly springing their religious beliefs on someone who needs medicine only they can provide.
The reasoning expressed by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, that they would have heard the appeal, is yet another signal that Hillary Clinton must be the next president to nominate justices to the high court.
Justice Alito, guilty as charged on the terrible Citizens United decision that has upended campaign finance law in the worst way, wrote a 15-page dissent for the three dissenting justices. “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,” Justice Alito wrote, the AP reported.
A trial judge twice ruled for the pharmacists in the long-running lawsuit, but was twice overturned by the federal appeals court in San Francisco.
In the case of Mississippi and Wisconsin, the justices followed their ruling Monday that struck down a similar provision in Texas. Federal appeals courts in Chicago and New Orleans earlier ruled against the states, the AP reported. Mississippi’s law would have closed the lone abortion clinic in the state, in Jackson.
The trio of right-wing justices on the losing end of this decision didn’t get their way when the court tied 4-4 on a Texas abortion clinic law that created undue burdens for women trying to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion.
Following the death of Antonin Scalia from the high court, President Barack Obama has nominated a well qualified nominee, Merrick Garland, to the court. Republicans, trying to run out the clock on the president’s final term, has refused with few exceptions to even meet the nominee. They reasoning is that the next president, a Republican they hope, should make the nomination. President Obama didn’t take their advice, instead nominating Judge Garland.
Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio who wants to stonewall the president’s duty under the constitution to fill vacancies on the court are finding themselves more lonely in their opposition to good governance than they thought would be the case. Sen. Portman’s Democratic challenger, former Democratic Ohio governor Ted Strickland, have run with the issue that the majority of Americans say they agree with.
When ties in Washington occur, as was the case with the Texas abortion law case, the decision of a lower court holds since their is no majority by the eight current seated justices.
How the court’s ruling will impact Ohio isn’t clear, according to one Cincinnati lawyer who has represented some of Ohio’s abortion clinics as they sought to remain open or challenge state rules. But Jennifer Branch said she thinks Monday’s Supreme Court ruling could help challenge Ohio’s restrictions, either in pending cases or new litigation, the AP reported.
“The bottom line is that the state of Ohio has been told by this decision to stop adding restrictions to clinics purely for the purpose of shutting clinics down and prohibiting women’s access to abortion,” Ms. Branch said Monday. Ohio has nine abortion clinics left, and three of those are in litigation, Branch said, according to the AP.