Ill. Governor's Mandated Contraception Dispension Plan Faces Challenges

A pro-life pharmacist filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the Illinois governor’s “emergency rule” mandating all pharmacists to dispense contraceptives regardless of their beliefs.

The lawsuit charged Governor Rod Blagojevich with violation of the state’s Healthcare Right Conscience Act, which protects the rights of health care providers to refuse services that go against their religious and ethical beliefs.

On April 1, Blagojevich filed his emergency rule, stating that pharmacists who do not comply will face legal penalties. The emergency rule is effective for 150 days, with plans to make it a permanent law.

The Center for Law and Religious Freedom, the Alliance Defense Fund, Americans United for Life, and Mauck and Baker attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of David Scimio, a pro-life pharmacist who works at Albertsons.

As a Christian, Scimio believes in the sanctity of life that begins at conception. Up until the governor’s emergency rule, Albertsons accommodated Scimio’s right to refuse to dispense contraceptives. Patients seeking contraceptives would be referred to a nearby pharmacy.

Scimio seeks the right to carry out his work without compromising his Christian beliefs.

One of Scimio’s attorneys, the Center for Law and Religious Freedom Litigation Counsel Casey Mattox, commented on the governor’s rule, saying that Blagojevich has overstepped his authority as governor.

“Governor Blagojevich must not be allowed to ignore the law and elevate convenience over individual rights of religious belief and moral conscience,” said Mattox.

“We are hopeful that the judicial department of the State of Illinois will fulfill its proper function by restraining the Governor from remaking state law in the image of his own personal political viewpoints.”

Earlier in the week, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a lawsuit against Blagojevich’s rule on behalf of two pharmacists, Peggy Pace and John Menges. The lawsuit also charges Blagojevich with violation of state law.