NRL News

Federal court affirms pharmacies’ freedom to operate according to religious beliefs

by | Apr 10, 2024

By McKenna Snow

The Biden Administration cannot legally force pharmacies to dispense drugs for abortion purposes, especially when religious beliefs are at stake, a federal judge affirmed on April 5, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

U.S. Western District of Texas, Midland-Odessa Division, Judge David Counts declared the caseState of Texas and Mayo Pharmacy v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “moot.” Counts said that the Pharmacy Guidance does not force or require pharmaceutical companies to dispense or fill prescriptions for drugs that violate the company’s religious beliefs.

Non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Mayo Pharmacy in the case, hailed the ruling as a clear statement protecting pharmacy companies’ freedom of religious beliefs from the “overstep” of federal agencies’ authority.

“Unelected bureaucrats can’t force Americans to dispense abortion-inducing drugs against their conscience,” Senior Counsel Matt Bowman stated. “HHS changed its pharmacy abortion guidance after the court ruled in favor of religious pharmacies in July. Now, the court made it clear that the guidance can’t require pharmacies to dispense abortion drugs or violate their religious beliefs.”

In July 2022, less than a month after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the HHS issued a document, “Obligations under Federal Civil Rights Laws to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services.”

The state of Texas and Mayo Pharmacy, Inc. sued HHS and the other defendants six months after the document was issued, “alleging the Pharmacy Guidance required pharmacies to dispense abortion-inducing drugs as a condition of receiving federal financial assistance like Medicare and Medicaid funds,” the ruling reads.

“Specifically, Texas claimed the Pharmacy Guidance sought to preempt its state laws prohibiting abortion, while Mayo claimed a requirement to dispense drugs for abortion purposes violated its sincerely held religious beliefs,” the ruling notes.

Methotrexate was the specified abortion-inducing drug that Mayo argued it would be forced to dispense under the current Pharmacy Guidance.

As the case continued in 2023, the HHS retitled the document to: “Obligations under Federal Civil Rights Laws to Ensure Nondiscriminatory Access to Health Care at Pharmacies,” and revised the text.

“The ruling also indicated that the court will likely stop any future attempts by HHS to use this guidance to open a burdensome investigation against our client, Mayo Pharmacy in North Dakota, or pharmacies in Texas if they decline to dispense abortion drugs,” Bowman said. “Federal agencies must be held accountable when they overstep their authority.”

Editor’s note: This article was published by CatholicVote.

Categories: Abortion Pill