by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2005
Belleville, IL (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life organization has called for a boycott of Walgreens pharmacies because the company recently fired four pharmacists who refused to dispense the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.
The four were placed on unpaid leave last week because Walgreens said it had to comply with an executive order issued by pro-abortion Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The company said it would help the pharmacists, who worked in this St. Louis suburb, to obtain a pharmacy license in neighboring Missouri and relocate them at stores on the Missouri side of the border.
But Ann Polka, manager for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville’s Project Rachel, called Walgreen’s actions "unjust" and disagreed with the decision to fire the pharmacists because they were following their moral and religious beliefs.
She told the Associated Press the Diocese of Belleville has given its support to a boycott and asking pro-life advocates in the area to move their prescriptions from Walgreens to another pharmacy.
"This is an unjust action," Polka told the Belleville, Illinois, News-Democrat. "They are being let go because they couldn’t in good conscience dispense the drugs."
Blagojevich put his rule forcing pharmacists to dispense all legal drugs forward in April. Since then he has been challenged by a couple of lawsuits saying his order is unconstitutional. Some of the pharmacists fired by Walgreens are involved in one of the lawsuits.
John Menges, one of the four Illinois pharmacists dismissed last week, said he and the others were fired when they refused to sign a Walgreens statement saying they would comply with the order.
He told WorldNetDaily that Walgreens as not actually offered him a position in Missouri, but he said three Illinois pharmacies have contacted him about a potential job.
"[Pharmacists] certainly have the right to their personal opinions, but that cannot get in the way of a woman’s right to get the care that her doctor has prescribed for her," Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff told WorldNetDaily. "If it is approved by the FDA and approved by a doctor, it is not a pharmacist’s place to deny access."
Ottenhoff said Blagojevich’s rule would have allowed Walgreens to choose not to sell the Plan B drugs instead of firing the pharmacists, but the company chose to sell the drugs.
"This (rule) is unjustly imposed on Illinois by Rod Blagojevich," Polka responded. "It’s puzzling to me that pharmacists do not have a discretionary power."
She indicated the Diocese would be sending out mailings to its churches and members supporting the boycott.
"These pharmacists are very courageous," she said. "We as Catholic Christians need to stand behind this."