by Steven Ertelt
December 1, 2005
St. Louis, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Walgreens pharmacy chain has fired four Illinois pharmacists who refused to fill prescriptions for the morning after pill because the drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion, violates their moral and religious beliefs.
The company placed the St. Louis-area pharmacists on unpaid leave, Walgreens officials said Wednesday.
The pharmacists work in Illinois, just across the state line from St. Louis and, as a result, they fall under a disputed executive order signed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich forcing pharmacists to fill all prescriptions regardless of whether the drugs involved are morally objectionable. Several pharmacists have filed lawsuits to overturn it.
John Menges of Edwardsville, who is involved in one of the lawsuits, was one of the pharmacists Walgreens fired, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper.
A Catholic, Menges worked at the Walgreens in Collinsville until Wednesday and he said he was removed from his position because his pro-life beliefs compel him not to fill prescriptions for the Plan B drugs.
Missouri does not have a similar policy in place and Walgreens official Michael Polzin told the Post Dispatch the four pharmacists could be re-assigned to Missouri stores, but they have not yet been offered specific jobs.
Ed Martin, an attorney for the pharmacists affiliated with Americans United for Life, which is helping them with the lawsuit, said the latest action is "disturbing." He told AP they would consider filing a lawsuit against Walgreens if the company didn’t reconsider.
But Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce told the Associated Press that the four "have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense, and in Illinois that is not an option."
Bruce said the licenses of both the pharmacies and the pharmacists would be revoked if Walgreens didn’t comply with Blagojevich’s order. She said the four would remain on unpaid leave until they decided to comply with the order or work in Missouri.
Karen Brauer, the president of Pharmacists for Life International, urged pro-life advocates "to avoid shopping at Walgreens, and pray for the pharmacists who stand up for human life."
Related web sites: