PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST AND THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS

PLANNED PARENTHOOD VOTES NORTHWEST AND HAWAII

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 24, 2015
CONTACT: Laura Einstein, Chief Legal Counsel, (206) 328-6880

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Patients’ Right to Medication

(Seattle) – Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) applauds the unanimous decision of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Stormans et al v. Weisman et al. The court upheld the constitutionality of a Board of Pharmacy rule requiring all pharmacies to provide drugs to patients regardless of pharmacist’s religious objections to providing the medication. The decision brings to a close eight years of litigation brought forward by two pharmacists and a pharmacy that objected to dispensing emergency contraception, also known as “Plan B.” 

“This decision is a huge victory for Washington state and we applaud the court for recognizing the unconstitutionality of denying certain medications because of religious beliefs,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of PPGNHI. “The ruling upholds women’s right to access the care they need when and where they need it.” 

The Court decisively found that the pharmacy rules do not violate the plaintiffs’ right to free exercise of religion. 

“We are thrilled with this ruling because the people of Washington state deserve nonjudgmental access to the care they need,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of PPVNH. “Religious freedom becomes religious coercion when someone else’s beliefs dictate what health care you are able to receive.”

In reaching its decision that the pharmacy rules are Constitutional, and do not violate the plaintiffs’ Freedom of Religion, the court found “the rules establish a practical means to ensure the safe and timely delivery of all lawful and lawfully prescribed medications to the patients who need them.” Rejecting the pharmacists’ claim that a referral to another pharmacy is adequate, the Court held, “the immediate delivery of a drug is always a faster method of delivery than requiring a customer to travel elsewhere.”

Planned Parenthood, Legal Voice and the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie represent seven Washington patients who intervened to defend the rules.

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Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) is the region's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. The organization operates 28 health centers in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, and Western Washington and provides medical services and sexuality education for thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and relies heavily on charitable donations to ensure our patients' ability to determine their own destinies and receive the health care they need.


Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating residents and policy-makers about reproductive health issues in Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Hawaii. PPVNH lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood's mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.