Illinois Court: Pharmacies Don’t Have To Carry ‘Morning After Pill’

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that the state cannot require pharmacies and pharmacists to carry emergency contraceptives, also known as “morning after pills,” if they have a religious objection to it.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich mandated in 2005 that all pharmacists and pharmacies would sell “Plan B,” a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following either unprotected sex or a known/suspected contraceptive failure, as long as it’s taken within 72 hours, reports The Huffington Post.

Some anti-abortion advocates oppose the pills, because they work by either preventing the release of an egg, preventing fertilization, or stopping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus wall.

An Illinois judge entered an injunction against the rule in 2011, saying that no evidence was there to support the drugs being denied on religious grounds. The judge added that the law was not neutral, because it was designed to target religious objectors.

The appellate court agreed with the judge’s ruling, saying that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protects a pharmacist’s decision not to sell the contraceptive because of beliefs. Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, stated that, “This decision is a great victory for religious freedom.”

The Chicago Tribune notes that a federal court in Washington struck down a similar rule earlier this year. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois spoke after the decision, expressing their dismay with the court for striking down the mandate. ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka stated:

“We are dismayed that the court expressly refused to consider the interests of women who are seeking lawful prescription medication and essentially held that the religious practice of individuals trumps women’s health care. We think the court could not be more wrong.”

Do you think the Illinois Appellate court was right to rule that pharmacies and pharmacists do not have to sell the morning after pill, if they have religious objections to it?