Illinois Court Affirms Pharmacists' Conscience Rights

Religion Today

Illinois Court Affirms Pharmacists' Conscience Rights


An Illinois appellate court ruled Sept. 21 that the state may not punish pharmacists for refusing to sell possible abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religious convictions, WORLD News Service reports. "The decision is a great victory for religious freedom," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, which has represented the pharmacies since 2005. "The government shouldn't kick business owners out of the market just because it dislikes their religious beliefs." The case began after then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a mandate in 2005 requiring all pharmacies and pharmacists to sell Plan B, also known as the "morning-after pill." When taken by women within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the drug may prevent pregnancy but also may cause an early abortion. In 2005, pharmacists Luke Vander Bleek, a Catholic, and Glenn Kosirog, a Christian, filed a lawsuit against the governor. A circuit court dismissed their claim, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the case must be heart. In 2011, a trial court ordered an injunction to halt the rule, saying it was designed to target religious objectors. The appellate court upheld that decision Sept. 21. Six other states -- Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota -- have also passed laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency-contraception drugs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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