by Steven Ertelt
September 14, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With health care professionals more routinely forced to participate in anti-life activities that violate their moral or religious beliefs, a leading pro-life attorney says rights of conscience issues are now at the top of the list of issues pro-life advocates should monitor.
Jay Sekulow, the top attorney at the pro-life American Center for Law and Justice, says "the front line fight for life includes doctors and medical professionals who refuse to participate in abortion procedures."
"We have received calls across the country from medical professionals who were being compelled by their places of employment to participate in abortion procedures," Sekulow explains.
"Nurses, doctors and pharmacists have all contacted us seeking help. We’ve gone to federal court in several of these cases and, in fact, have obtained a jury verdict, including punitive damages on behalf of nurses in California who were forced to dispense the morning after pill," he said.
In the latest victory, a federal court rejected an attempt by pro-abortion Illinois Gov, Rod Blagojevich to dismiss a lawsuit against him filed by seven pharmacists who object to his executive order forcing all state pharmacists to dispense the morning after pill. The pharmacists say the order violates their first amendment religious freedoms.
The U.S. District Court in Springfield denied Blagojevich’s motion.
Judge Jeanne E. Scott said that the pharmacists’ allegations, if proven at trial, “may establish that the object of the Rule [morning-after-pill mandate] is to target pharmacists, such as the Plaintiffs, who have religious objections to Emergency Contraceptives, for the purpose of forcing them either to compromise their religious beliefs or to leave the practice of pharmacy."
"This is a significant victory for the right of conscience for those pharmacists who object to dispensing this particular pill," Sekulow explained. "Five of the seven pharmacists have actually lost their jobs for failing to comply with the Governor’s mandate."
"We hope that the State of Illinois heeds the wisdom of Judge Scott," Sekulow adds. "If they do not, these cases will continue to be litigated as will others around the country."
Sekulow said pro-life advocates will continue to aggressively litigate such cases and protect the rights of pro-life advocates to not be involved in objectionable practices.
"As in the case of the jury trial for the nurses in California two years ago, this case is sending the same shock waves to the pro-abortion industry that is not used to having to have their position challenged so aggressively in federal court," he concluded.