Illinois Wal-Mart Pharmacist Target of Abortion Advocates on Morning After Pill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Wal-Mart Pharmacist Target of Abortion Advocates on Morning After Pill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 3, 2006

Beardstown, IL ( — A pharmacist at a Wal-Mart in Beardstown who rejected a request to fill a prescription for the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion, is the subject of a state complaint filed by Planned Parenthood.

The complaint says Ethan Vandersand violated state rules by not complying with an order from Gov. Rod Blagojevich that requires all pharmacists to fill any prescription for a legal, drug, including any drug that could cause an abortion.

Stephani Cox, patient-services director of Planned Parenthood’s Springfield affiliate, told the Springfield Journal-Register newspaper that Vandersand was the only pharmacist on duty at the Wal-Mart store when a woman seeking the Plan B drugs presented the script.

Cox said she eventually went to another pharmacy in town.

Planned Parenthood filed the complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, an agency that has already disciplined other pro-life pharmacists for violating Blagojevich’s order.

Several pharmacists have filed three different lawsuits seeking to overturn the order and saying it violates Illinois law, which protects medical professionals from being forced to engage in actions that violate their religious or moral beliefs.

"It just really ticks me off," Cox told the Springfield newspaper. She claimed pharmacist who object to filling the drugs are in the minority and "barriers" to women’s health.

However, a December poll conducted by HCD Research surveyed 859 pharmacists and found that 69 percent of pharmacists believe they should have the ability to decline filling prescriptions for the morning after pill.

Vandersand did not provide comment to the Journal-Register but Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman told the newspaper the company is looking into the complaint.

"Wal-Mart expects our pharmacists to comply with all aspects of company policy and the law," Fogleman said. "Those that don’t are subject to discipline, up to and including termination."

Wal-Mart itself has come under fire from abortion advocates in Massachusetts who are complaining that none of its 44 stores there stock the morning after pill.

According to Cox, Vandersand told her that Wal-mart does not carry the Plan B drugs, so she ordered a high dose of regular birth control pills for the woman. He would not fill that order.

She told the newspaper he had refused to fill prescriptions for her in the past but the was the first request following Blagojevich’s disputed order.

Vandersand eventually referred Cox to another pharmacy.

Susan Hofer, a state official with Financial and Professional Regulation said four state pharmacies have been the subject of complaints. An Osco Drug in St. Charles paid a $37,500 fine to avoid losing its pharmacy license after a morning after pill dispute. The other three complaints are still pending.