Illinois Gov: Rescind Pharmacist-Abortion Order, Catholic Cardinal Says

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Gov: Rescind Pharmacist-Abortion Order, Catholic Cardinal Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 6, 2005

Springfield, IL ( — A leading Catholic says Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich should rescind his order requiring state pharmacists to fill all prescriptions. The order has been criticized because it would make pharmacists dispense drugs that can cause abortions and violate their moral and religious views.

Cadinal Francis George called on Blagojevich to back off the rule, which has sparked a national firestorm of controversy. Several pharmacists are participating in two lawsuits against the governor’s actions.

"People have a choice what pharmacy they want to go to, and pharmacists should have a moral choice also," George said, according to a Chicago Sun Tims news report.

"I don’t think the state has any business encroaching on the conscience of people," Cardinal George added. "We haven’t done this in this country, we’ve respected individual conscience as something that is of great moral importance, so I would hope the governor would rethink his regulation."

The governor’s ruling came down days after abortion advocates criticized a Chicago pharmacist for opting against filling a woman’s prescription for the morning after pill, citing his moral objections.

Blagojevich defended his ruling Wednesday and is seeking to make the 150-day order permanent.

"I believe that if you’re a pharmacist and you’ve made a decision to sell birth control and contraceptives, once you made that decision, then you’re in no position to decide who might or might not be someone you sell it to," Blagojevich told the Sun Times. "That’s not your place as a pharmacist."

Cardinal George and Govenor Blagojevich met on Wednesday, but aides to both did not confirm whether the two discussed the pharmacist’s order.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life law firm, filed suit in state court on behalf of two pharmacists who say dispensing such drugs violates their moral beliefs. They contend they should not be required to participate in the abortions the drugs may cause or to contribute to a customer’s sexual activity.

The ACLJ lawsuit says the Governor’s order is unenforceable and lawsuit urges the court to overturn it.

The lawsuit also points to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which allows Illinois health care providers to not participate in medical services about which they have a moral objection.

Francis J. Manion, a senior ACLJ attorney said Blagojevich’s directive "is not only legally flawed but it puts pharmacists in the untenable position of having to choose between adhering to their religious beliefs and violating a law that could cost them their jobs."

"The religious beliefs of those in the health care industry must be protected," said Manion. "The pro-life pharmacist who chooses not to dispense abortion producing drugs should not face punishment and discrimination for abiding by those convictions."

Peggy Pace and John Menges, two registered pharmacists who will not dispense the morning-after pill or Plan B medication because of their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs brought the lawsuit. Both believe the drugs can act as abortion agents.

Both work for retail pharmacy stores and they join other pharmacists who say they will not dispense such drugs.

Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice –