Pharmacists Can Deny Access to Contraception

     (CN) - Pharmacies do not have to distribute emergency contraception due to Illinois' Conscience Act, a state appeals court ruled.
     Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog filed for relief from an administrative rule that requires pharmacists like them to dispense the morning-after pill.
     The pharmacists were joined by Fitzgerald Pharmacy, Eggelston Pharmacy and Kosirog Rexall Pharmacy.
     Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was a defendant in the lawsuit, along with Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation Fernando Grillo, the state pharmacy board and Daniel Bluthardt, the acting director of the Division of Professional Regulation.
     The plaintiffs believe that life begins at conception, the morning-after pill causes abortions and that dispensing the pill is against their religious beliefs.
     The trial court granted them an injunction, claiming that the rule was unconstitutional under the Conscience Act and the Religious Freedom Act.
     The Springfield-based Fourth District Illinois Court of Appeals partially upheld the decision in a ruling written by Judge James Knecht. The result is that the pharmacists will not be compelled to dispense the pills.
     "The Conscience Act does not prohibit governmental action that may ultimately force health-care personnel or health-care facilities to make a conscientious decision based on their beliefs not to comply with that government action," Knecht wrote.
     "The Conscience Act, instead, states such personnel or entities may not be discriminated against or punished civilly or criminally if they make a conscience-based decision not to comply. The current rule does not violate the Conscience Act; its enforcement against plaintiffs on the issue of emergency contraceptives does," he added.