Roundup: Religious Belief or Discrimination?, The Pill Called ‘Out of Date’

Brady Swenson

Is pharmacists refusal to sell birth control a religious freedom or gender discrimination?, A Princeton professor says the Pill is 'out of date'.

Religious Belief or Masked Discrimination? … You should check out Amanda ‘s follow up to her excellent column yesterday in which she put William "Lord" Saletan in his place for choosing to get the backs of "pro-life" pharmacists instead of backing women.  Saletan argues that these "pro-life" pharmacists are simply adhereing to a strong religious belief that contraception, even condoms, cause the death of the fetus, and that religious beliefs cannot be discriminated agaisnt.  Amanda asserts that:


… when a pharmacist refuses to serve a female customer because he believes she is
sexually active in a way that goes against his religion, he is discriminating
her on two counts that are arguably illegal:

1) Discrimination against customers based on gender and
2) Discrimination
against customers based on religious affiliation.  The pharmacist is not the
only person with a religious belief.  As I argue in my piece, what happens in a
refusal interaction is the pharmacist gains information that the customer has a
religious belief he disapproves of (one that allows for the use of
contraception) and he refuses service based on that religious belief. 

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Amanda goes on to remind us that in the past we have overcome bigoted ideas to firmly establish personal liberties above and beyond the protective cloak of "religious belief":

Sexists hope that hiding behind religion will confuse the issue, and sadly
they’re right that Americans have short memories and are easily confused.  But
let me remind you: Segregation was defended using the religion card.  A great
many white people claimed to sincerely believe that the Bible required that the
races be separated, a belief that was even in the decision of the judge that
sent the Lovings to jail for interracial marriage, resulting in a lawsuit that
ended up overturning bans on interracial marriage.  We would not accept a hotel
manager who felt that his hotel was exempt from the CRA because his religious
freedom means that he can impose his will on black customers and refuse to put
them in any rooms but broken-down shacks in the back.  Nor should we accept a
pharmacist who does the equivalent with his female customers. 

In a related note, Scotland approved FREE emergency contraception to be available in the nation’s pharmacies.  Pharmacists will be able to opt out of providing EC as a matter of conscience.

Contraceptive Pill Outdated, Says Expert … Professor James Trussell of Princeton University warns that 1 in 12 women on the Pill become pregnant because they forget to take tablets at the right time

He said: "The Pill is an outdated method because it does not work well enough.
It is very difficult for ordinary women to take a pill every single day. The
beauty of the implant or the IUD is that you can forget about them."

He said studies have shown women miss three times as many pills as they say they
do. Computerised pill packs have revealed that where as about half of women say
they did not miss any pills, less than a third actually did. And where as
between 10 per cent and 14 per cent admitted missing more than three pills in a
month, actually between 30 per cent and 50 per cent missed that many.

While the contraceptive efficacy of the Pill is indeed reliant upon the discipline of the woman using the Pill it is the form of birth control that most women seem most comfortable with.  More permanent options are, of course, available with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. has a very thorough description of birth control options with advantages and disadvantages of each. 


Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Welcome to the New World After ‘Whole Woman’s Health’

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

With the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, change may be afoot—even in some of the reddest red states. But anti-choice laws are still wreaking havoc around the world, like in Northern Ireland where women living under an abortion ban are turning to drones for medication abortion pills.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

The New York Times published a map explaining how the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt could affect abortion nationwide.

The Supreme Court vacated the corruption conviction of “Governor Ultrasound:” Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who signed a 2012 bill requiring women get unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion.

Ian Millhiser argues in ThinkProgress that Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the true heir to Thurgood Marshall’s legacy.

The legal fight over HB 2 cost Texas taxpayers $1 million. What a waste.

The Washington Post has an article from Amanda Hollis-Brusky and Rachel VanSickle-Ward detailing how Whole Woman’s Health may have altered abortion politics for good.

A federal court delayed implementation of a Florida law that would have slashed Planned Parenthood’s funding, but the law has already done a lot of damage in Palm Beach County.

After the Whole Woman’s Health Supreme Court ruling in favor of science and pregnant people, Planned Parenthood is gearing up to fight abortion restrictions in eight states. And we are here for it.

Drones aren’t just flying death machines: They’re actually helping women in Northern Ireland who need to get their hands on some medication abortion pills.

Abortion fever has gone international: In New Zealand, there are calls to re-examine decades-old abortion laws that don’t address 21st-century needs.

Had Justice Antonin Scalia been alive, explains Emma Green for the Atlantic, there would have been the necessary fourth vote for the Supreme Court to take a case about pharmacists who have religious objections to doing their job when it comes to providing emergency contraception.

News Law and Policy

Judge Blocks Mississippi ‘Religious Freedom’ Law, Calling it Discriminatory

Nicole Knight Shine

"But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens. It must be enjoined," U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves wrote.

A U.S. District Judge temporarily blocked a sweeping and controversial Mississippi “religious freedom” law late Thursday, calling the legislation “arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.”

“The State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others,” U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves wrote in a 60-page decision issued hours before HB 1523 was set to go into effect.

Reeves ruled that the bill violated the First and 14th Amendments by allowing individuals, religious organizations, and some government employees with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to deny services to, as Reeves wrote, “lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons,” potentially gutting certain privileges and legal protections—such as those stemming from the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The bill was authored by Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Hinds), who had called the high court’s legalization of marriage equality “in direct conflict with God’s design for marriage as set forth in the Bible,” as the Washington Post reported.

“Religious freedom was one of the building blocks of this great nation, and after the nation was torn apart, the guarantee of equal protection under law was used to stitch it back together,” Reeves wrote in his decision.”But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens. It must be enjoined.”

The legislation, known as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant in April, after clearing the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

The measure enshrined three religiously held tenets: that gender is determined at birth, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that sex is “properly reserved” for heterosexual marriage. It determined that housing, employment, and adoption decisions could be made based on those religious beliefs.

A swift national and state-level outcry followed the passage of HB 1523, with 80 CEOs, among others, calling for its repeal as “bad for our employees and bad for business,” according to the court documents. The law had been challenged in Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

The state has not said whether it will appeal Reeves’ ruling. If the state does not appeal, the temporary order becomes permanent after another hearing.

“I am grateful that the court has blocked this divisive law,” said Rev. Susan Hrostowski, an Episcopal priest and a plaintiff in the Campaign for Southern Equality case. “As a member of the LGBT community and as minister of the Gospel, I am thankful that justice prevailed.”

The injunction Thursday follows a ruling earlier this week by Reeves, a 2010 Obama appointee, which blocked a provision in HB 1523 allowing circuit clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as the Washington Post reported. Twenty months prior, Reeves had struck down the state’s statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.