Thursday, February 23, 2012

Freedom of Religious Expression Endangered In Washington State

Every campaign, politicians stand before us telling us what they think we want to hear in order to gain our votes. Democrat, Republican or Independent, all think they will gain our support with just a little tickling of our ears. Occasionally though, one will lower their guard just a bit and those with a discerning ear might just pick up on what the real candidate thinks or stands for.

Such is the case now with Democrat candidate for Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee.

Most of my readers know that I am not very supportive of Democrats, but before you write this off as just another piece opposing Democrats, I urge you to read on and see how not only Jay Inslee, but outgoing governor Christine Gregoire actually opposes your First Amendment right to Free Religious Expression.

As most know by now, a controversial legal case on the state mandating a Pharmacist stock and dispense the “morning-after pill” was decided in favor of the Pharmacist by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma February 22, 2012.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy required the Pharmacies and Pharmacists, under pressure from unnamed state officials and Planned Parenthood, to sell the drug or face losing their license.

The Pharmacists filed suit against the regulation in 2007, claiming that dispensing a drug designed to terminate a pregnancy was against their religious beliefs.

In his decision, Judge Leighton wrote,
“The board’s rules were designed to ‘force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted’.”
Indicating a strong possibility of appealing Judge Leighton’s ruling, Governor Gregoire issued a statement saying,
“The purpose of the Board of Pharmacy rule is to ensure safe and timely access to lawful and lawfully prescribed medications, with particular concern about time sensitive medications. I remain concerned about the impacts on patients if pharmacies are allowed to refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed or lawful medications to patients. I am especially concerned about those living in rural areas, many of whom may have few alternatives and could suffer lengthy delays in receiving medication or go without entirely.

“My position in the matter has been clear from the start, and that is that patients should be provided with lawful and lawfully prescribed medications.

“Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, the Attorney General’s Office and I will confer regarding the best path forward to ensure patients have access to medications, especially those that are time sensitive. There are strong arguments to make on appeal from this lower court decision.”
That the current governor would consider appealing the ruling comes a no surprise. But Jay Inslee, the man who would be our next governor if chosen by voter issued a statement and with much stronger wording. He stated,
“It is beyond reason that women are still forced to battle for something as basic as contraception in the year 2012. We just witnessed the Republican Party’s attack on women in the recent House hearing on copay-free contraception, and now this federal ruling that would allow pharmacists to deny contraception to women in crisis. This is not a battle over religious freedom – it’s a battle to let science guide our discourse instead of ideology. This ruling must be aggressively challenged and women’s full access to contraception restored and protected.”
Let me repeat that one sentence, “This is not a battle over religious freedom – it’s a battle to let science guide our discourse instead of ideology.”

Does it escape Jay Inslee that people do have and hold deep religious beliefs? It is a cornerstone of our Republic and a large part of why our founding fathers came to this land centuries ago to establish a land where people no longer feared a tyrannical government imposed religion.

We saw this same attitude from these same people in the run-up to their approving homosexual marriage recently. While they touted exemptions for clergy to be required to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies, amendments to extend those exemptions to others, non-clergy, private businesses, citizens who cater to weddings, photographers and such who may also not wish to participate in or assist in a homosexual marriage ceremony due to any deeply held religious belief you may have was defeated.

To the state of Washington currently, your religious beliefs come behind their belief in science. Your conscience is of no importance to them as their belief in scientific views is to be imposed upon you.

As Judge Leighton expressed, even though there are several secular exemptions permitted to not dispense the drug, your religious view was not to be allowed to decline dispensing it.

Such an egregious violation of religious views held must not be allowed. It’s not like this particular Pharmacy is the only place such a drug could be purchased. There are more Pharmacies than we can shake a stick at in Washington. Planned Parenthood could make the drug available too, since they have no aversion to killing an unborn child or a woman who engaged in unprotected sex and fears becoming pregnant could obtain it from a hospital. There is no shortage of their ability to obtain the pill, even if a few stand on their religious view to not sell it.

Attorney General and Republican candidate for Governor, Ron McKenna previously expressed support of the states view that they have supersede religious objections to selling this abortion pill. As of this posting, I find no statement from him or his campaign as to whether he would support an appeal or allow Judge Leighton’s ruling to stand if he were governor.

Conservative Republican candidate for Governor, Shahram Hadian issued a press release in support of Judge Leighton's decision here

Judge Leighton’s decision referenced how the state does not require doctors to participate in assisted suicides, abortions or even executions. He also referenced that the US Supreme Court has not established a constitutional definition of exactly when life begins, but the Plaintiff’s in this case sincerely believe they know that answer and are compelled to act accordingly.

He then notes the state argues that their “sincere belief about an issue at the core of their religion is not entitled to constitutional protection, but is instead granted (or not) as a matter of legislative grace.”

We cannot and must not permit elected politicians to determine and mandate what our beliefs, if any, are to be.

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