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WASHINGTON, July 26, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Illinois), Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, explored government coercion to violate pharmacists’ consciences at a committee hearing yesterday. In particular, the committee investigated Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s emergency rule ordering pharmacies to fill orders for the morning-after pill and its effect on rural pharmacies.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) praised the move. “We commend Rep. Manzullo for holding this timely hearing to provide a thoughtful examination of Gov. Blagojevich’s insensitive order demanding that all pharmacies in Illinois provide the controversial drug known as the morning-after pill,” said Wendy Wright, CWA’s senior policy director. “At risk is each person’s ability to follow one’s conscience not to perform an activity that one believes could end another human’s life, and the survival of small businesses serving rural economies. Innocent victims have been overlooked while the abortion lobby’s pet project, to politically promote the morning-after pill, has been lavished with inordinate attention.”

At yesterday’s hearing, one witness claimed she was “humiliated and discriminated against” by a pharmacist who explained to the witness that she couldn’t fill her prescription. The witness drove to another store, which she admitted under questioning was a mere 20 minutes away. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colorado) chastised the witness for expecting her convenience to trump another human being’s moral convictions, and called her complaint “unseemly.”

On the other side, Luke Vander Bleek, R.Ph., owner of several pharmacies serving rural areas, testified that Gov. Blagojevich’s order “creates an environment in Illinois whereby a person holding deep moral convictions concerning the unborn cannot own and operate a licensed pharmacy.”

CWA of Illinois State Director Kathy Valente said, “Shutting down businesses for political reasons is a classic example of tyranny. This kind of government arrogance threatens our constitutional liberties and must be stopped.”

When questioned by Rep. Manzullo, Sheila Nix, the governor’s senior policy adviser, admitted that the governor’s office would not force doctors to prescribe the morning-after pill against their conscience or good medical judgment. The state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, in the governor’s interpretation, covered physicians but not pharmacists.

Rep. Manzullo directed that a transcript of the hearing be rushed to each Illinois legislator and Gov. Blagojevich.

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