Religion in Society

Judge Says Pharmacists Can Refuse to Give Morning-After Pill

| by Illinois Family Institute

By Ralph Rivera, IFI Lobbyist | Illinois Family Institute

An Illinois Judge ruled last week that the State cannot force two
pharmacists with religious objections to abortion to dispense Plan B
also known as the "morning after pill".

Circuit court Judge John Belz
in Springfield issued a temporary restraining order to remain in effect
until he can hear arguments regarding the legality of the state's
administrative rule that requires pharmacies to dispense all "lawful
prescription[s] for a contraceptive... without delay" against the
owners/pharmacists religious beliefs and consciences. Pharmacy owners Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who have several northern Illinois pharmacies, have been fighting for their rights on this issue since 2005.

At
heart of the legal battle is the question of whether the Emergency
Contraceptives Rule, which took effect on August 25, 2005 under the
executive order of then-Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, violates the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Right of Conscience Act.

The
governor at that time stated publicly that "pharmacists with moral
objections should find another profession," and "must fill
prescriptions without making moral judgments."

Last December,
the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the pro-life pharmacists could
proceed with their lawsuit seeking to overturn the executive order by
Blagojevich, after a divided appellate court affirmed a circuit court
[Judge Belz] decision to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court noted
that "Plaintiffs [VanderBleek and Kosirog] have alleged that defendants
are on record via the Governor's public statements, warning that the
entire point of the rule is to coerce pharmacists with religious
objections into dispensing Plan B contraceptives."

In October
2007, a settlement was reached with the State and certain pharmacists
and Walgreen Co. that stated pharmacists would not have to fill a
prescription they opposed on moral grounds, but the pharmacy would have
to make arrangements to have the prescription filled by some other
pharmacist.

This requirement that the pharmacy would still have
to see that the prescription order was filled did not protect the
pharmacy owner who had a moral opposition to the prescription. Both
VanderBleek and Kosirog, who are also pharmacists, then pursued further
legal action to protect their rights of conscience.

Pro-lifers
objection to Plan B, pharmaceutically known as Levonorgestrel, is based
on the fact that Plan B acts in two ways, one of which is to prevent
implantation of a new human life after conception. The manufacturer of
Plan B is Barr Laboratories and its own information sheet on Plan B
states "it may inhibit implantation(by altering the endometrium)."
Thus, it has the effect of a chemical abortion.