Pharmacist Vows He Will Not Dispense Abortifacient Despite Job Loss

Governor: "Right of conscience does not apply to pharmacists."
Fri Dec 16, 2005 - 12:15 pm EST

By Terry Vanderheyden

ST. LOUIS, Illinois, December 16, 2005 ( – A Walgreens pharmacist, suspended last month without pay, has refused to sign a pledge promising that he would dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill in accord with a law instituted by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Rich Quayle said he is looking for other work, forfeiting his $100,000 a year job for the decision; one of two other pharmacists also suspended has decided to sign the pledge to keep her job.

The pharmacies, all located in Illinois, are subject to a law instituted by Blagojevich in April that forces pharmacists to fill prescriptions whether they are morally opposed or not. A spokesman from Blagojevich’s office, Abby Ottenhoff, said that the “right of conscience does not apply to pharmacists,” according to an AP report.

Claiming that dispensing an abortifacient is not the same as performing an abortion, Ottenhoff explained, “In general, the aim was to give medical professionals who may be in a position to perform an abortion the right to abstain from doing so. We fully support that right, but a pharmacist is not asked to perform abortions. He’s asked to fill prescriptions.”

“People try to paint us as being religious zealots,” Quayle said. “I have firm religious beliefs, and I choose not to destroy a human being. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad moral stance to take.”

“The media has painted us as a bunch of rogues and uncaring individuals, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he added. “I like helping people. But I’m not there to kill anybody, and I won’t do it.”

Quayle, a Baptist, explained, “If you prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus you prevent that from becoming a human being. If I give her this medication, that medication is designed to eliminate one of those lives, and that’s a position I choose not to participate in.”

The American Center for Law and Justice filed charges last week with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in St. Louis alleging that Walgreens engaged in unlawful religious discrimination by effectively firing Quayle and two of his colleagues who requested accommodation of their religious objections to dispensing the “morning-after pill.” The other pharmacists are John Menges and Carol Muzzarelli, who, with Quayle, all worked at Walgreens stores in the St. Louis Metro East area of Illinois.

Since the promulgation of Bladovich’s emergency rule, which became permanent in August, the three pharmacists have let Walgreens know of their objections and have requested an accommodation of their religious beliefs –“a right guaranteed to them under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Illinois Human Rights Act, and the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act,” according to an ACLJ release.

On November 28, Menges and Quayle refused to sign a new policy agreeing to dispense the abortifacient. In response, Walgreens placed each of them on “unpaid indefinite suspension.” Carol Muzzarelli, who was on a personal leave of absence at the time, was told that she could not come back to work for Walgreens in Illinois unless she agreed to sign the policy.

According to the ACLJ, the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, for example, makes it “unlawful for any person, public or private institution . . . to discriminate against any person in any manner . . . because of such person’s conscientious refusal to . . . participate in any way in any particular form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.” The Act’s definition of “health care personnel” includes “professional, paraprofessional, or any other person who furnishes, or assists in the furnishing of, health care services.”

“If the Right of Conscience law means nothing and religious beliefs mean nothing, we’re in a lot of trouble,” Quayle emphasized.

Contact Walgreens:
  On line:;jsessionid=GFP3ZFI4X2252CSJY2ZHPOQKJHDTE3MK

200 Wilmot Road
  Deerfield, IL 60015
  Phone: (847) 914-2500, 1-877-250-5823

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