Search  |  Login  |  Register

By Jay Sekulow1307561638000

It's a case that has been ongoing for six years.  And, today, a sweeping victory for pro-life pharmacy owners in Illinois.

A state court in Illinois today issued a decision striking down a state law that compels pharmacy owners to dispense Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception, even if doing so violates their religious or moral beliefs.

In August 2009, a state judge granted our request for a preliminary injunction in the case of two pharmacy owners, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog in the case of  Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich.

The case went to trial in March 2010 and a decision today by Judge John W. Belz of the circuit court sitting in Springfield declared that the state law violates the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The decision is posted here.

Senior Councel Francis J. Manion has been working on this case for years and puts this decision into perspective:

"Today's decision is a major victory for the rights of conscience.  After six long years of litigation, our clients have finally prevailed against a state government determined to coerce them and all pro-life pharmacists into violating their deeply held religious beliefs or give up their livelihoods.  Judge Belz's decision makes clear that both Illinois state law and the First Amendment will not permit this. This country was founded by people with a strong commitment to religious freedom. That's why freedom of religion is the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights. For government at any level to try to run roughshod over that freedom is to abdicate the government's primary responsibility."

We were assisted in this case by Mark Rienzi of Catholic University's Columbus School of Law, who served as co-counsel.

In his ruling, Judge Belz noted that "The government asserts that this Rule serves a compelling interest in timely access to drugs. Yet the government concedes that it had never done anything to advance its asserted interest prior to April 2010. Even as to emergency contraception, the Court heard no evidence of a single person who ever was unable to obtain emergency contraception because of a religious objection."

This is the latest victory in an ongoing effort to protect the fundamental right of pharmacists to practice their profession without having to violate their conscience.

In Menges v. Blagojevich, we 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.

We'll let you know if the state decides to appeal today's decision.

Latest in
Pro Life

Defending Crisis Pregnancy Centers

By Edward White1412112355610

Since 2010, the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) has been defending the First Amendment rights of two non-profit organizations that operate numerous pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in New York City. We filed a lawsuit challenging a city law (Local Law 17) that imposes burdensome...

read more

ObamaCare Directly Funds Abortion

By Matthew Clark1410913584000

A new report from the Government Accountability Office reveals what we’ve been saying all along: ObamaCare funds abortion. Put more directly: you are paying for abortion with your federal tax dollars in direct violation of federal law. In fact the new report details a myriad of ways that despite...

read more

Big Abortion Tries to Buy an Election

By David French1410202422000

There are few states more pro-life than Tennessee. When you poll my friends and neighbors (I live in Columbia, Tenn., perhaps best-known as the “Mule Capital of the World”), you’ll find that 70 percent of Tennesseans would like to ban abortion in all cases or in all cases except rape, incest, or...

read more

Hold Planned Parenthood Accountable

By Walter M. Weber1409239247000

At the ACLJ, we have been working overtime to get a whistleblower case against Planned Parenthood back on track after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the case dismissed. Helping that effort are two friend-of-the-court briefs filed, urging the Ninth...

read more