Illinois court upholds conscience rights for pharmacists

Details, from Catholic News Agency: 

An Illinois appeals court’s ruling on the conscience rights of pharmacists is being hailed as a victory for religious freedom and could offer hope to current lawsuits challenging the federal contraception mandate.

“Government can’t force pharmacists and pharmacies to violate their religious beliefs to stay in business,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has been co-representing the pharmacists for seven years.

Rienzi told CNA on Sept. 24 that the ruling provides a “useful” parallel in examining the controversial Health and Human Services mandate that forces many religious employers to violate their sincere beliefs by providing health insurance coverage of contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs.

“I think the same principle would apply,” he said.

On Sept. 21, an Illinois appellate court held that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell early abortion-inducing drugs if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

The ruling comes after seven years of litigation over a state mandate requiring all pharmacies and pharmacists to sell Plan B, known as the “morning after pill.” Pharmacists who did not comply were threatened with penalties, including fines and “the loss of professional licenses.”

Several pharmacists and pharmacies that hold moral objections to the morning-after pill because it can cause the abortion of a human embryo filed lawsuits.

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