Illinois Pro-Life Pharmacists Win Injunction in Conscience Rights Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 26, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Pro-Life Pharmacists Win Injunction in Conscience Rights Lawsuit

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 26
, 2009

Springfield, IL ( — Pro-life pharmacists in Illinois won a legal victory late last week when a court granted a temporary injunction preventing them from being forced to disseminate drugs that violate their moral and religious views. The case revolves around a mandate former Gov. Rod Blagojevich put in place.

The governor’s order makes them fill all prescriptions, including those for the morning after pill and, perhaps someday, drugs that directly cause abortions or are used in assisted suicides.

On Friday, the circuit court in Springfield issued a preliminary injunction in the case of two pharmacy owners, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog. Both men have been fighting to protect their conscience

"The Attorney General’s Office has repeatedly argued that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act does not apply to the practice of pharmacy-and they have repeatedly failed," said Francis J. Manion, ACLJ senior counsel.

"While this is not a final decision on the merits of our lawsuit, the writing is on the wall," he told "Our clients are entitled to run their pharmacies according to the dictates of their moral and religious beliefs. This is what the law allows; this is what the court has affirmed."

Serving as co-counsel in the case is Mark Rienzi, a professor of law at Catholic University of America, who argued the motion on August 6.

In the court’s decision, Judge John W. Belz ruled that "Plaintiffs have certain and ascertainable rights under state and federal law."

"Plaintiffs are suffering irreparable harm in the form of an ongoing chill of their free exercise rights and rights of conscience under federal and state law, as well as unlawful coercion based on their religious and moral beliefs," he wrote.
The judge went on to find that the plaintiffs "have a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims."

As a result of the injunction, the pharmacists will be permitted to refuse to dispense Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception, if doing so would violate their religious or moral beliefs. That protection will last through the remainder of the lawsuit.

Other cases have also been filed against Blagojevich’s order.

In Menges v. Blagojevich, the ACLJ represented seven individual pharmacists who succeeded in having the state amend the regulation to recognize the conscience rights of individual pharmacists.

In Vandersand v. Walmart and Quayle v. Walgreens, the ACLJ convinced two other courts that Illinois pharmacists are protected by the State’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

The current case, Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich, seeks to ensure that pro-life pharmacy owners – not just individual pharmacists – receive the legal protection to which they are entitled under state laws as well as the U.S. Constitution.

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