Illinois Supreme Court Decision Supports Conscience Rights of Pharmacists

Fri Dec 19, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

CHICAGO, Illinois, December 19, 2008 ( – Yesterday the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Morr-Fitz v. Blagojevich that individual pharmacists and pharmacy owners do have legal standing to challenge a rule requiring them to dispense Plan B, which abortion activists call “emergency contraception,” regardless of their religious, moral, or conscientious beliefs.
  The rule was originally forced upon the pharmacists and pharmacies by a 2005 emergency order of Governor Rod Blagojevich, who stated in no uncertain terms that pharmacists should either dispense the controversial drug or leave the profession. Two lower courts had previously ruled that the plaintiff-pharmacists and pharmacies did not have legal standing to challenge the rule.
  In a 2006 State of the State address, Blagojevich expressed his intention to veto any bills that attempted to restore physicians’ conscience rights. "Now, I understand that several bills have been introduced that would overturn my executive order to protect women’s reproductive freedoms,” he said. “So let me make something else very clear—if any of those bills reach my desk, they are dead on arrival."

Also in 2006 he boasted to the Windy City Times about his record of denying pharmacists their conscience rights. “Think about what we’ve been able to do since I’ve been governor,” he said. “The reproductive freedoms of women are more protected in Illinois than any state in America. That’s in [stark] contrast to the advances and assaults coming from the Bush administration of Washington. We passed a law under my leadership to make insurance companies fill female contraceptives. Illinois had never done that before and we passed that law.”

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life (AUL) President and CEO, responded to the Supreme Court decision, stating, “This is a huge victory for the freedom of conscience of all healthcare providers. Pharmacists now have proper recourse against a discriminatory law that would force them to check their constitutional rights at the workplace door.”
  Mailee Smith, AUL Staff Counsel, noted, “Finally, an Illinois court got it right. If pharmacists and pharmacy owners don’t have standing to challenge a rule that unfairly targets them, who does? People should have legal recourse when the state attempts to circumvent and even eliminate their constitutional rights.”

AUL’s brief is available at

See related coverage:

Illinois Governor Mandates Pharmacists Dispense Abortion Causing Morning-After Pills or Face Consequence

Walgreens Disciplines Four Pharmacists for Refusing Abortifacient Morning-After Pill Prescriptions

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