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

Late-Term Abortion Is Disgraceful

By Carly F. Gammill1431965295788

The 2013 trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the late-term abortionist convicted of murdering babies who were born alive after undergoing abortion procedures, presented the public with graphic descriptions of the abortions, and even photographs of many of those babies. What words might describe such...

read more

Bureaucracy Bullies Adoptive Families

By ACLJ.org1431694800000

Even as orphans in need face overwhelming obstacles, those loving and caring families who wish to provide them the care they so desperately need – to adopt them – are being targeted by an out-of-control federal bureaucracy. The international orphan crisis currently affects over 153 million children...

read more

Now It’s the Senate’s Turn

By Jay Sekulow1431553246396

Today, two years after abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murdering babies born alive after botched abortions , the House of Representatives voted 242-184 to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Thank you for making this happen. You gave voice to the voiceless. You stood up...

read more

Gosnell’s “House of Horrors”

By Olivia Summers1431533011721

Two years ago today , Kermit Gosnell was found guilty on three counts of murder in the first-degree, as well as “hundreds of lesser charges.” Certainly, a trial resulting in a conviction that significant was followed closely by the American media? Not so. Most media outlets barely covered the trial...

read more