SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – Illinois pharmacists cannot be forced to dispense emergency contraception, a Sangamon County Circuit Judge ruled.
Judge John Belz found that requiring pharmacists to sell the so-called morning-after pill violates state right-of-conscience law and the First Amendment.
It’s the latest ruling in a 6-year struggle since pharmacists filed a lawsuit challenging a rule requiring them to dispense the drug. The rule was issued under Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2005.
A circuit court dismissed the claim, but the Illinois Supreme Court revived it in 2008.
The morning-after pill can prevent pregnancy if taken within three days of unprotected sex, by blocking ovulation or fertilization.
Critics claim it is the equivalent of an “abortion pill” because it can block a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Some pharmacists object to supplying the pill on religious grounds.
A spokeswoman said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would appeal.