There's been an important development in the long-standing legal battle to protect the rights of pro-life pharmacists in Illinois.
ACLJ Senior Counsel Frank Manion reports that on Friday, the circuit court sitting in Springfield, Ill. 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 rights. We represent the pharmacists in the case of Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich.
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.
As Frank Manion puts it: "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. While this is not a final decision on the merits of our lawsuit, the writing is on the wall. 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."
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."
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.
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.
The injunction will remain in place until a final ruling in the case is issued. This is a case that continues to generate news coverage because of the important nature of the case. You can read some of the news coverage that is posted to our site here.