In 2009, pro-life nurse Cathy DeCarlo was forced to assist in a D&E abortion on a 22-week-old unborn baby. Her supervisor threatened her with insubordination if she didn't participate, which would have cost Cathy her job. Witnessing the dismemberment of the baby and sifting through its remains to account for all the body parts left Cathy with recurring nightmares.
The Church Amendment, which was passed just weeks after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade in 1973, protects the right of healthcare workers and institutions to not participate in or perform abortions against their conscience. But unfortunately, this freedom to not participate in the killing of the unborn has seen increasing pressure from abortion advocates who want to eliminate any dissenters from their abortion on demand utopia. As a result, Cathy is just one example of the many pro-life healthcare workers who have had to fight for their freedom of conscience, including other nurses, doctors, hospital chains, and even pharmacists.
The Stormans family is one recent example. The family, which has owned and operated Ralph's Thriftway in Olympia, Washington, for more than 70 years, has been embroiled in a 10-year legal battle involving a radical state law that forces them to carry and dispense abortion-inducing drugs in their pharmacy. The family is pro-life and believes that life begins at fertilization. To dispense drugs like Plan B and ella, which can prevent new life from implanting in the womb, causing the death of the baby, would violate their conscience.
If forcing pro-life pharmacists, like the Stormans, to dispense abortifacients sounds outrageous to you, it's because it is. The Washington law completely disregards ethical pharmacy practice where it is standard (in every state except Washington) to allow pharmacists to make referrals for conscience-based reasons. In fact, the American Pharmacists Association, the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and more than 30 other pharmacy organizations have described the Washington law as "truly radical" and "grossly out of step with state regulatory practice."
These organizations further stated in their brief to the Supreme Court that “the Ninth Circuit’s decision [ruling against the Stormans family] effectively eliminated pharmacists’ right not to participate in actions they conscientiously oppose, even though a ‘right of conscience’ has always been integral to the ethical practice of pharmacy.” This point echoes a federal court's opinion that the Washington State regulations were "aimed at [abortificatient drugs] and conscientious objectors from their inception."
Attacks on the conscience rights of healthcare workers is a disturbing trend. Many of these individuals entered the healthcare industry because they wanted to save lives—not help end them.
“At our pharmacy, we vowed to provide healthcare – and that means not harming anyone,” Greg Stormans, one of the owners of Ralph's Thriftway, recently said. “We are in a business that is supposed to protect life not terminate it. Plan B can destroy human life. And that is something we cannot participate in.”
The Stormans family must now wait and see if the United States Supreme Court will take up their case and protect their rights to conscientiously object to being involved—in any way—in taking human life.
Please Keep the Stormans Family in your Prayers
Please keep the Stormans family in your prayers, and be praying that the Supreme Court will hear their case and uphold their freedom. If the Court refuses to hear the case, it would not only be damaging to religious freedom in the State of Washington, but it could also set destructive groundwork for more attacks on pro-life healthcare workers who could see their rights to conscientious objection stripped away in the name of on-demand access to abortion.
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