Illinois Judge Puts Enforcement of Illinois’ Pharmacy Law on Hold

07Apr09

A central Illinois judge, Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz, has placed a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of a state law that requires  pharmacists to dispense medications that may go counter to their religious beliefs. The state law has attempted to resolve the issue: should women’s health care be compromised because of a pharmacist’s personal beliefs?

The temporary order was written to apply to the two pharmacists who sued claiming the state law violates their religious freedom. Although it specifies these two pharmacists, it is expected to be applied to all in Illinois.  The restraining order will be in effect until the judge hears arguments from the two pharmacists.

The pharmacists refuse to dispense emergency contraception (EC) because they oppose abortion. This religious objection is often applied to dispensing all birth control, including condoms. States have attempted to resolve this dilemma by requiring another pharmacist to be on the premises who more info

does not share the religious objections, or for another pharmacy to be in close proximity so that the client’s health care needs can be met.

A pharmacist’s refusal to dispense birth control can be an untenable decision for women. What if the pharmacy is the only one for miles around?  What if it is the only one that takes the woman’s insurance?

EC, which is 89% effective if taken within three days of unprotected sex but can be taken up to five days after sex, prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation.  It in no way affects a pregnancy or a fetus.  (If the woman is pregnant, she’ll still be pregnant after using EC!)

Because EC is so time sensitive, a pharmacist’s decision not to dispense it can have devastating effects.  Any delays in taking Plan B will lessen its effectiveness.  Not dispensing birth control is the trump card in depriving women of independence.


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