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By Jay Sekulow1308975983000

As in any movement, the pro-life community has seen changes over the last decade.  In the 1980s and 90s, it was picketing and protests in front of abortion clinics that led the effort to eradicate the rampant abortions taking place in the United States.  These picketing and protests included acts of civil disobedience, pitting protestors against governmental authorities.  These protestors later faced arrests and, in some cases, allegations of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) violations.  It took 20 years to have those RICO charged lifted off the back of the pro-life movement.   In order to obtain victory, we actually had to take the RICO cases to the Supreme Court of the United States on three separate occasions.  Most recently, we won a unanimous decision, once and for all removing this cloud that had hung over the pro-life movement for two decades.

 

Now the front line fight for life includes doctors and medical professionals who refuse to participate in abortion procedures.  We have received calls across the country from medical professionals who were being compelled by their places of employment to participate in abortion procedures.  Nurses, doctors and pharmacists have all contacted us seeking help.  Weve gone to federal court in several of these cases and, in fact, have obtained a jury verdict, including punitive damages on behalf of nurses in California who were forced to dispense the morning after pill.  That victory sent shock waves through the pro-abortion industry. 

 

Our latest victory in federal court is doing exactly that once again:  A federal court has dismissed an attempt by Illinois Governor Blagojevich to dismiss a lawsuit against him filed by seven pharmacists whom we represent.  These seven pharmacists object to an Executive Order the Governor issued forcing all state pharmacists to dispense the morning after pill.  We have alleged in our complaint that the order violated the First Amendment right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.  The U.S. District Court in Springfield, Illinois, denied the Governors motion to dismiss the suit, which was filed challenging the States year-old morning after pill mandate.  This is a significant victory for the right of conscience for those pharmacists who object to dispensing this particular pill.  Five of the seven pharmacists have actually lost their jobs for failing to comply with the Governors mandate.  In a 28-page order and opinion, Judge Jeanne Scott held that the pharmacists allegations taken as true may establish that the object of the Rule [morning-after-pill mandate] is to target pharmacists, such as the Plaintiffs, who have religious objections to Emergency Contraceptives, for the purpose of forcing them either to compromise their religious beliefs or leave the practice of pharmacy.  The judge went on to hold that such an object is not religiously neutral.  Rules and regulations that show hostility toward religious faith and practices are deemed unconstitutional by the courts.  The ruling is an important recognition of the right of conscience.  Frank Manion, who is leading these cases for us around the country, noted that, The Court has recognized that the State may not target religious objectors for disparate treatment.  Frank went on to state that [o]ur clients have never sought to prevent anyone from gaining access to these drugs.  They simply want the State to respect their right to refrain from participating in activity that violates their sincerely held beliefs.

 

Judge Scott, in her order, encouraged the State to amend its existing rule to clarify its object and application in a manner that would be consistent with individual constitutional rights.  We hope that the State of Illinois heeds the wisdom of Judge Scott.  If they do not, these cases will continue to be litigated as will others around the country.  As in the case of the jury trial for the nurses in California two years ago, this case is sending the same shock waves to the pro-abortion industry that is not used to having to have their position challenged so aggressively in federal court.  Its about time!

 

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