Illinois cannot make pharmacists give 'morning after' pill: court

CHICAGO Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:16pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives - also known as "morning after pills" - if they have religious objections.

In 2005, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich mandated that all pharmacists and pharmacies sell "Plan B," the brand name for a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours.

Some anti-abortion advocates object to the drugs, which work by preventing the release of an egg, preventing fertilization or stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

In 2011, an Illinois judge entered an injunction against the rule, finding no evidence that the drugs had ever been denied on religious grounds, and that the law was not neutral since it was designed to target religious objectors.

The Illinois appellate court agreed that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protects pharmacists' decision not to dispense the contraceptives due to their beliefs.

"This decision is a great victory for religious freedom," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, quoted in a statement about the decision.

Earlier this year, a federal court in Washington struck down a similar state rule, according to the Becket Fund, a non-profit law firm.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which had filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state, expressed dismay at the court's decision.

"We are dismayed that the court expressly refused to consider the interests of women who are seeking lawful prescription medication and essentially held that the religious practice of individuals trumps women's health care," said ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka. "We think the court could not be more wrong."

A spokesperson for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Tim Gaynor)

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Comments (3)
gregbrew56 wrote:
If a pharmacist is unwilling to do their job, they should be “invited” to find employment elsewhere.

Sep 21, 2012 7:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jaroca wrote:

I am only making an assumption here. Most places/states where I have lived a pharmacist is required to be licensed and to agree to meet standards set by a board/government entity. If they refuse a legitimate prescription because they “don’t agree” for whatever reason I feel they should lose their license. Especially if they are located in a small town with no other options for the residents to obtain their prescriptions.

If they have taken/used any government backed loans in their education and still owe on them those notes should be called in full immediately.

Religion, government and science do not mix and I’m tired of people pushing their personal moral values on others.

If the transaction is legal they should be required by law to provide the customer’s needs.

If your personal religion gets in the way of fulfilling your job’s responsibilities then your should leave that job. I’m sure that others would be happy to have your position.

Sep 21, 2012 10:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JackinFL wrote:
Liberty 1: Left wing Fascism 0.

Sep 21, 2012 11:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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