Pharmacists in Illinois have been granted a victory in their legal battle over their right of conscience, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization dedicated to protecting constitutional rights.
The state circuit court in Springfield has issued a temporary restraining order against the governor of Illinois, barring him from enforcing a 2005 administrative regulation that forced pharmacies to dispense Plan B and other abortion-inducing drugs.
The decision, just released on Friday, comes in a lawsuit over the dispute.
“This is yet another step on the road to full protection for the rights of conscience of all health-care workers,” said Francis J. Manion, ACLJ senior counsel who argued the motion on behalf of pharmacists.
In December, the Bush administration issued a “conscience rule” that assured the protection of health-care providers who refuse to participate in services they are morally opposed to, such as abortion. The regulation would cut off federal funding to health-care facilities that denied their workers the right to conscience.
However, the Obama administration is seeking to rescind this rule, denying health workers the ability to object to giving certain medications or performing certain procedures based on moral objections.
The ACLJ has been involved in a number of cases since the 2005 executive order in Illinois, implemented by impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. His plan specifically targeted pro-life pharmacists who refused to give out abortion-inducing drugs.
His executive order was a result of urging from pro-abortion organizations including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice America.
Manion said that the ACLJ would continue fighting for the conscience rights.
“The court rejected the attempt of Illinois officials to trample on the rights of our clients and disregard existing laws passed by the legislature for the very purpose of protecting those rights,” Manion said.
“We will continue to press this issue until we have obtained full protection for the conscience rights of these professionals who should not have to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and license revocation and other penalties,” he said.
The ACLJ’s clients, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, had a significant interest at stake. The two own five pharmacies combined and both have deeply rooted religious convictions that make them unwilling to sell drugs that would result in abortion. A hearing for a permanent injunction regarding the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act will be take place in June.
“All the conscience laws in the world will only be effective if those whose rights are endangered are ready to fight attempts by government and private entities to ignore them,” Manion said. “We will continue to fight for pro-life health-care workers to ensure that existing laws have the teeth in them needed to be effective.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is currently soliciting public opinion on Obama’s plan to remove conscience clause protection at the federal level. The HHS public comment period ends this week.
The ACLJ has organized a petition to keep the conscience clause in place so that medical professionals will not be required to act against their morals and convictions. More than 200,000 Americans have signed on to the petition.