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The National Catholic Bioethics Center
NCBC Comments on Stormans v. Weisman
June 29, 2016
© 2017 by The National Catholic Bioethics Center


This week the United States Supreme Court effectively stated that persons of conscience have no place in health care delivery.  In issuing its decision not to hear the petition in the Stormans v. Weisman case, the Supreme Court effectively held that faith-based reasons for refusing to provide abortifacients to paying customers is unconstitutional, even in the absence of any evidence of lack of access to the drug. This ruling was handed down despite the First Amendment to the Constitution, which gives all Americans the right to freely exercise their faith in the public square, not just in the pews of their houses of worship.

The case involves Ralph’s Thriftway, a family owned pharmacy, which was threatened by the State of Washington Board of Pharmacy with the loss of its license for refusing to stock the “Morning-After Pill,” which has abortifacient properties. A lower court ruled in favor of the Stormans, citing that if other pharmacies are allowed by the Board of Pharmacy not to carry specific drugs for other reasons, the Stormans had the right to have their faith-based reasons respected.  The 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, and the Stormans petitioned the Supreme Court. This week the Supreme Court decided not to uphold our Constitution, nor to defend the right of Americans to refuse to participate in the destruction of the most vulnerable young human beings in their mothers’ wombs.

This Court has set the stage for unfettered State coercion — a coercion that extends even to forcing American citizens to have to participate in the killing of other human beings.   All health care workers should be concerned about the implications of this decision.  

As Justice Alito said in the dissenting opinion:

This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State.