by Steven Ertelt
April 4, 2005
Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — After a Chicago pharmacist opted out of dispensing morning after pills, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, on Friday, put forward an emergency order requiring all state pharmacists to fill prescriptions for such drugs. The order sets up a battle with pro-life pharmacists who want to opt out of dispensing objectionable drugs.
On February 23, a pharmacist at an Osco Drug in Chicago decided against filling two customers’ morning after pill prescription.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has filed a formal complaint against the pharmacy for "failing to provide appropriate pharmaceutical care to a patient.”
According to an Associated Press report, the drug store could be fined, lose its pharmacy license or be reprimanded.
The new rule says pharmacies must make sure another pharmacist is on hand to fill the drug if a pro-life pharmacist says he has a moral problem.
Blagojevich’s order takes effect for 150 days while his administration pursues putting a permanent rule in place.
"Our regulation says that if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the pharmacy or the pharmacist is not allowed to discriminate or to choose who he sells it to,” Blagojevich said. "No delays. No hassles. No lectures.”
The governor also set up a toll-free hotline for complaints about other prescription rejections.
However, Blagojevich’s rule could run into the Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which allows medical professionals to opt out a medical practice with which they are uncomfortable.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the governor was rebuked at a recent church service.
"Mr. Governor, out of respect for Pope John Paul II, please respect his wishes," Bishop Thomas Paprocki told Blagojevich as he sat at the front of St. Hyacinth’s Basilica during a church service. "Please rescind your order. Let our pharmacists be free to follow their faith."
In the Chicago case, a female pharmacist told two women who called the drugstore that she doesn’t fill those prescriptions. Other pharmacists in other states have opted against fill such orders because the drugs can sometimes work as an abortion agent.
Jewel-Osco told the Times newspaper that the pharmacist followed state law and company policy.
Public hearings will be held on whether to make the new rule permanent.
Steve Trombley, CEO for Planned Parenthood in Chicago, told the Associated Press he backed the agency’s efforts.
"When medical professionals write prescriptions for their patients, they are acting in their patients’ best interests,” Trombley said. "A pharmacist’s personal views cannot intrude on the relationship between a woman and her doctor.”
But Nikolas Nikas of Americans United for Life told UPI, "The governor’s so-called ’emergency rule’ tramples the religious liberty of pharmacists and smacks of the worst type of religious bigotry."
"The so-called right to choose has become the right to coerce violations of one’s conscience," he said.
In March, abortion advocates launched a new campaign to target pro-life pharmacists and to lobby pharmacies to make sure that they will fill all prescriptions for birth control drugs, including those that could cause abortions.