Illinois Decides to Not Appeal; Pharmacists' Court Victory Stands

The state of Illinois has opted to not pursue an appeal to a case surrounding a 2005 government mandate that was being used to compel pharmacists to provide the Plan B pill to patients.

After the Illinois Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two suing pharmacists, Assistant Attorney General Carl J. Elitz sent a letter to the Illinois Supreme Court last week with the decision.

"Please be advised that the petitioners have decided not to pursue further review of this matter, and accordingly, will not be filing a petition for leave to appeal by the applicable deadline," wrote Elitz.

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The two pharmacists who sued over the 2005 mandate on Plan B were represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for The Becket Fund, told The Christian Post that he had been working on this case since its inception in 2005.

"The result is that there is now clear law in Illinois that the government can't force pharmacists or pharmacies with religious objections to dispense emergency contraceptives," said Rienzi.

"That was the entire point of the April 2005 order, and we now have clarity that the government can't do that. The government still retains its ability to regulate the profession, of course. But the decision means they can't force religious objectors to participate."

In 2005, then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an "emergency rule" mandate regarding the dispensation of the controversial contraceptives like the Plan B drug.

That same year, two pharmacists sued Illinois over the rule, arguing that it violated their religious conscience to supply such "morning after" pills.

In 2011, a judge granted an injunction against the rule, arguing that the law was not neutral and was meant to target those with religious objections.

In September, the Illinois Court of Appeals sided with the pharmacists, stating that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act exempted pharmacists from the mandate.

The case was one of several the Becket Fund is overseeing involving government regulations on preventive services which various professionals, charities, and businesses take issue with on religious grounds.

Rienzi of the Becket Fund told CP that he felt the Illinois case's result would add more weight to the legal arguments being made in other suits, especially against the HHS mandate.

"Illinois argued – and the federal government has argued in the HHS cases – that people lose their religious liberty rights as soon as they open a business to make money," said Rienzi.

"That's simply not the law, in Illinois or anywhere else. To date, four of the five courts to decide the question in the HHS Mandate context have reached the same conclusion, and this decision adds more momentum."

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