A federal lawsuit challenging a Washington Board of Pharmacy order to provide controversial birth control prescriptions will again enter a courtroom this week in Portland.
Jurists from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Stormans versus Wiesman, a legal challenge that began in 2007 when Kevin Stormans, whose family owns Ralph’s Thriftway and its pharmacy in Olympia.
Along with two pharmacist plaintiffs who worked elsewhere in the state, they challenged the state’s order to provide drugs that violated the dispenser’s personal beliefs. So-called “morning-after” birth control was how some of these prescriptions were described.
Federal Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma initially found in favor of the pharmacists, saying they had the right to exercise their religious beliefs and decline to provide drugs which they did not personally support. That decision was overturned in the first Court of Appeals review in 2009, leading to a new trial from which Leighton again sided with the plaintiffs.
That ruling was appealed in 2012 and Deputy State Solicitor General Alan D. Copsey will be defending the state’s rules in Thursday’s Portland hearing.