Search  |  Login  |  Register

Pro-Life Victory for Pharmacists

By Francis J. Manion1348529599000

On Friday, September 21, 2012, the Illinois Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s injunction against the State of Illinois that protects the right of pro-life pharmacy owners to refuse to stock and sell the morning-after pill and similar drugs that interfere with the development of human life at its earliest stages. In Morr-Fitz, Inc. et al., v. Pat Quinn, Governor, et al., the court held that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act “protects plaintiffs’ decisions not to dispense emergency contraceptives due to their conscience beliefs.”

The plaintiffs, Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog, owners of three pharmacies between them, have been fighting a state mandate that they stock and sell the “morning-after pill” since 2005. The ACLJ is co-counsel for the pharmacies and their owners, along with Mark Rienzi, Esq. of the Becket Fund.

In April, 2005, then Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an “Emergency Rule” mandating that pharmacies fill prescriptions for drugs, including emergency contraception, “without delay.” The Emergency Rule became a final administrative rule later that year. After the Rule was finalized, Kosirog and Vander Bleek sued the governor and other state officials claiming that the regulation violated their rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, one of the country’s most comprehensive set of protections for the rights of conscience in the health care arena.

After going to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in 2008 that Kosirog and Vander Bleek had standing to challenge the rule, the case went back to the trial court which, in March of 2011, entered an injunction blocking enforcement of Blagojevich’s Rule. Today, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the permanent injunction as to Kosirog and Vander Bleek, allowing them the freedom not to comply with the Rule.

In arriving at its decision, the court relied in part on a case brought by the ACLJ in 2006, Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores. In that case, a federal court ruled that a pharmacist who refused to dispense emergency contraception because of his religious and conscientious beliefs fell under the protection of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Both these cases are part of a long line of litigation that the ACLJ has brought on behalf of pro-life health care professionals over the past decade and a half in both federal and state courts. The ACLJ seeks to defend such professionals who are on the front lines of the pro-life battle. While most of us enjoy the freedom to profess pro-life views without much fear of an immediate personal toll, when doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers take a pro-life stand, it can cost them their jobs and livelihoods.

With a permanent injunction in place, Kosirog and Vander Bleek have the legal right to run their pharmacies according to the dictates of their conscience without interference from state officials. Considering the ongoing, nationwide litigation pending against the HHS Mandate, today’s decision is a welcome one indeed. While the decision turned on the application of state only, it shows that courts will protect the rights of conscience when the legal authority is clear. We are confident that the federal courts will do the same against the HHS Mandate.

Latest in
Pro Life

You are Funding Big Abortion

By Nicole Smith1427821539493

It’s safe to say that it’s no secret that Planned Parenthood’s cash cow is abortion. Each year, Planned Parenthood performs nearly 330,000 abortions . That’s a staggering 900 children murdered every day. That’s one abortion every 90 seconds. And what’s worse, your hard earned tax dollars are being...

read more

Have They No Shame?

By Joseph Williams1426698391000

This week in Congress, Democrat Senators blocked an anti-human trafficking bill because it doesn’t publicly fund abortions. Read that again. Pro-abortion extremists are trying to kill an anti-human trafficking bill that enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist has more...

read more

New Life in HHS Mandate Challenge

By Edward White1426006112440

On March 9th, the United States Supreme Court reversed a 2-to-1 decision by the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that required the University of Notre Dame to comply with the Obama Administration’s abortion-pill Mandate even though compliance violates the Catholic teachings that...

read more

Lawsuit against Planned Parenthood

By Walter M. Weber1425926216131

On March 5, ACLJ attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reinstate a lawsuit accusing the Planned Parenthood (PP) affiliates of California of illegally overcharging the government – and thus taxpayers – over $200 million. In our “petition for certiorari,” the name for a formal request...

read more