by Steven Ertelt
January 26, 2006
Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the Illinois state legislature have introduced three separate bills that would overturn a mandate put in place by Gov. Rod Blagojevich that forces pharmacists there to dispense any legal drug, such as the morning after pill. His rule has resulted in the firing of pro-life pharmacists who don’t want to give out drugs that can cause abortions.
The measures would allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing the drugs so they’re not forced to violate their moral or religious beliefs.
"We’re not saying take it off the market," Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican, told the Springfield Journal-Record newspaper. "We’re just saying for those pharmacists who have a religious problem with it, don’t make us fill it."
However, Blagojevich made it clear last week he would continue forcing pharmacists to dispense the controversial drugs.
"Now, I understand that several bills have been introduced that would overturn my executive order," he said in his State of the State address last week. "So let me make something else very clear — if any of those bills reach my desk, they are dead on arrival."
Blagojevich instituted his mandate in April and several lawsuits have been filed against it by pharmacists across the state who say it violates Illinois law and their constitutional rights.
A Walgreens store in southern Illinois came under fire when it fired five pharmacists who refused to dispense the Plan B drugs.
Rep. Kurt Granberg, a Democrat who is sponsoring two of the bills, says the governor is wrong to not give pharmacists the same conscience rights that doctors have to refuse being a part of an abortion.
"Pharmacists weren’t allowed to do what they think is right. And I don’t think that’s appropriate government business," he told the Springfield paper.
Granberg says he may not press for his legislation because of the veto threat but Ralph Rivera of Illinois Citizens for Life hopes lawmakers will push the bills.
He told the newspaper he thinks the bills have a good chance of passing because they simply add pharmacists to existing protections for other medical workers.
"One of the arguments is that we don’t have to create a right of conscience. It’s already in law," Rivera said. "What we have to say is that pharmacists are already healthcare professionals. I think that (the argument) would resonate with many members."
The bills will also find support from the Illinois Pharmacists Association but pro-abortion groups like the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council are prepared to fight the bills.
The difficult part would be finding the three-fifths majority to override the veto.
TAKE ACTION: Contact your elected officials and encourage them to support the pharmacist conscience clause bills. Go to https://www.legis.state.il.us to find contact information.