Illinois Judge Stops Govt from Forcing Pro-Life Pharmacists to Dispense Drugs
by Steven Ertelt
April 6, 2009
Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — An Illinois judge on Friday provided pro-life pharmacists in the state with a legal victory in their case against the state government. The case centers on a 2005 executive order pro-abortion ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued that would require pharmacists to dispense the morning after pill, which sometimes causes an abortion.
The pharmacists who filed suit to overturn the order said to be forced to do so would violate their religious and moral beliefs.
Sangamon County Judge John Belz issued a temporary restraining order last week against the state government ordering officials not to enforce the Blagojevich order.
Francis Manion, an attorney with the pro-life American Center for Law and Justice law firm, told LifeNews.com he is pleased with the decision.
"This is yet another step on the road to full protection for the rights of conscience of all health care workers," he said. "In ruling in favor of our clients, the court rejected the attempt of Illinois officials to trample on the rights of our clients and disregard existing laws passed by the legislature for the very purpose of protecting those rights."
"We will continue to press this issue until we have obtained full protection for the conscience rights of these professionals who should not have to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and license revocation and other penalties," he added.
In issuing the order, Judge Belz found that the regulation posed a real threat of irreparable harm to pharmacists with religious objections to selling such drugs.
He said the ACLJ’s clients, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who own five pharmacies between them, were "likely to succeed" on the merits of their claim that the regulation violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.
"This comes right at the heart of a moral question for us as to whether or not I and my businesses can be involved in products that destroy life," said Vander Bleek, a pharmacy owner from Morrison. "I reject it. I answer on that question to a much higher authority."
Terence Corrigan of Attorney General Lisa Madigans office argued that the pharmacists did not have standing to sue because they had not yet had to refuse to fill a prescription for the morning after pills.
A hearing on the pharmacists’ request for a permanent injunction will be held sometime in June.
This case is one of a number of lawsuits the ACLJ has been involved in Illinois since 2005 when then-Governor Blagojevich, at the urging of Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other pro-abortion groups, issued his executive order.
Blagojevich issued the ruling in April after a Chicago pharmacists declined to fill a prescription for the Plan B drug and a state legislative panel made it permanent. Other pharmacists say they would do the same thing if not for the mandate.
"All the conscience laws in the world will only be effective if those whose rights are endangered are ready to fight attempts by government and private entities to ignore them," said Manion. "We will continue to fight for pro-life health care workers to ensure that existing laws have the teeth in them needed to be effective."
This legal victory comes as the administration of President Barack Obama continues to solicit public comment on his plan to rescind conscience protections at the federal level that have been in place to protect the rights of pro-life medical personnel.
Related web sites:
ACLJ – https://www.aclj.org
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