Illinois Panel Upholds Governor’s Rule on Pharmacists and Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Panel Upholds Governor’s Rule on Pharmacists and Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18, 2005

Springfield, IL ( — An Illinois panel upheld an administrative ruling issued by Governor Rod Blagojevich requiring all pharmacists in the state to dispense all legal drugs — including those that could cause abortions.

Members f the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules defeated an attempt to overturn the rule on a 6-5 vote. Sen. Brad Burzynski, a Republican, had hoped to suspend the rule and he needed eight votes to do it.

Rep. David Leitch told the Springfield Journal-Register newspaper that he supported overturning the rule because "I feel it is unfair to violate the pharmacists’ right of conscience, just as I would feel it would be unfair to take away a conscientious objector’s status in the military."

Blagojevich’s order takes effect for 150 days while his administration pursues putting a permanent rule in place.

Backers of the governor’s pharmacists’ rule were incensed at Senator Burzynski’s efforts to undo it.

"It’s an embarrassment in Illinois that we even have to have this discussion, quite frankly," Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, a Republican, said. "I don’t think that anyone should sit in moral judgment on something as lifesaving or simple as a prescription."

The vote isn’t the end of the effort to find protection for pharmacists who don’t want to be forced into participating in abortions. Blagojevich faces two lawsuits over his 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.

The Center for Law and Religious Freedom is suing on behalf of a Chicago pharmacist.

Pam Sutherland of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council told the Springfield newspaper that her 21 facilities have not had any prescriptions for the morning after pill or birth control pills denied since the order was put in place.

Before that, "we were having prescriptions denied every few months at some pharmacy or another."

Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice –