Walgreens Demands Dispensing of Abortion Drugs, Pharmacists Allege

Walgreens has been charged with alleged unlawful religious discrimination after firing three Illinois pharmacists who requested to be accommodated for their religious objections when dispensing the “morning after pill.”

The pharmacists say that because of their religious beliefs they cannot give out drugs such as the “morning after pill” and “Plan B.” Because they believe life begins at conception, they say such drugs would cause them to participate in an act equivalent to abortion, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the group representing the plaintiffs. The group filed the charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in St. Louis.

“Walgreens' complete disregard of these pharmacists' rights is shocking,” said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel with the ACLJ. “The company made no attempt to fulfill its legal obligation under federal and state law to respect the rights of these dedicated health care professionals to decline to participate in practices that are contrary to their beliefs.”

The pharmacists allege that Walgreens representatives went from store to store demanding the pharmacists who objected to sign a new policy passed by the company. Two, John Menges and Richard Quayle, refused. The other, Carol Muzzarelli, who was on a personal leave of absence was told she could not come back to work unless she agreed to the new policy, she alleged.

The ACLJ says that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act makes it "unlawful for any person, public or private institution ... to discriminate against any person in any manner ... because of such person's conscientious refusal to ... participate in any way in any particular form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience."

The Act's definition of "health care personnel," states the ACLJ, includes "professional, paraprofessional, or any other person who furnishes, or assists in the furnishing of, health care services."