Judge: Ill. Pharmacists Can Refuse to Dispense Abortion Pills for Now

An Illinois judge has issued a preliminary injunction in the case of two pharmacy owners who have been fighting to protect their conscience rights.

As a result of the injunction, pharmacists Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog will be permitted to refuse to dispense "Plan B" and other forms of emergency contraception, if doing so would violate their religious or moral beliefs.

"The Attorney General's Office has repeatedly argued that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act does not apply to the practice of pharmacy-and they have repeatedly failed," commented Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing the pharmacists in the case. "While this is not a final decision on the merits of our lawsuit, the writing is on the wall. Our clients are entitled to run their pharmacies according to the dictates of their moral and religious beliefs. This is what the law allows; this is what the court has affirmed."

In the decision Friday, Judge John W. Belz ruled that the plaintiffs "have certain and ascertainable rights under state and federal law."

"Plaintiffs are suffering irreparable harm in the form of an ongoing chill of their free exercise rights and rights of conscience under federal and state law, as well as unlawful coercion based on their religious and moral beliefs," he stated.

The judge went on to find that the plaintiffs "have a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims."

According to the ruling, the injunction will remain in place until a final ruling in the case is issued.

The case is Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich.