Illinois Lawsuit Filed Against Walgreens Over Firing Pro-Life Pharmacists

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 31, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Lawsuit Filed Against Walgreens Over Firing Pro-Life Pharmacists Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 31, 2006

Edwardsville, IL ( — A pro-life law firm has filed lawsuits on behalf of four pharmacists who were fired form a southern Illinois Walgreens because they refused to dispense the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.

Walgreens officials say they were forced to suspend the pharmacists because of an executive order put in place by Gov. Rod Blagojevich requiring pharmacists to dispense all drugs, including those that could cause abortions.

The American Center for Law and Justice file the lawsuit on Friday for the pharmacists, who were placed on unpaid leave in November.

The pro-life law firm had previously filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The ACLJ says Walgreens violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which makes it illegal to "discriminate against any person in any manner … because of such person’s conscientious refusal … to participate in any way in any form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience."

The firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of pharmacists against the Blagojevich order on the same grounds as have other pro-life groups, such as Americans United for Life.

“It couldn’t be any clearer,” Francis Manion, senior counsel for ACLJ, said. “In punishing these pharmacists for asserting a right protected by the Conscience Act, Walgreens broke the law.”

"Walgreens has been trying to excuse its callous firing of these four pharmacists by blaming the governor and his unlawful executive order. But none of the other major retail pharmacies have interpreted the order the way Walgreens has," Manion said.

"The others are doing what the law actually requires — they’re accommodating those pharmacists who object to dispensing these drugs while, at the same time, serving all of their customers. For whatever reason, Walgreens chose not to respect its pharmacists. That’s why we’re going to court," he explained.

State lawmakers have filed bills that would overturn Blagojevich’s order, but the governor has said they would be vetoed if they reach his desk.

In December, a poll by the New Jersey-based HCD Research found that 69 percent of pharmacists nationwide believe they should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs like the morning after pill that may violate their moral or religious beliefs.