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AUL Applauds Illinois Decision Protecting Conscience Rights

Washington, DC — An Illinois trial court enjoined the enforcement of a draconian rule intended to force individual pharmacists and pharmacies to fill prescriptions for so-called “emergency contraception” in direct violation of federal law, the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, and the conscience rights of targeted pharmacists and pharmacies.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO & President of Americans United for Life, responded, “As our nation debates health care reform, it is critical that we reach the same conclusion as the Illinois court:  real health care reform respects conscience.  Protecting the conscience rights of all health care providers is critical to the continuing viability and safety of our health care system.”

Denise Burke, AUL Vice President of Legal Affairs added, “Protecting conscience helps to ensure that providers enter and remain in the health care professions, helping to meet the rising demand for quality care.  On the other hand, failing to protect conscience will most certainly compromise basic health care for the entire nation.”

The case, Morr-Fitz v. Quinn, involves a constitutional challenge to a 2005 Executive Order signed by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich mandating that all prescriptions for Plan B or so-called “emergency contraception” be filled “without delay” and, consequentially, without regard to the conscience objections of individual pharmacists or pharmacies.  In December 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the case, overturning the decisions of two lower courts to dismiss it, and returned the case to the circuit court in Springfield which entered an injunction against the enforcement of the Order on August 21, 2009.

AUL provided legal support to the plaintiff-pharmacists and pharmacies from the initiation of this case, most recently filing an amicus brief before the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and other medical groups. The brief argued that the Plaintiffs’ rights of conscience — specifically their rights to decline to dispense prescriptions in violation of their consciences — are guaranteed under both federal and Illinois law.

AUL’s brief is available at http://www.aul.org/xm_client/client_documents/briefs/Morr-FitzvBlagILontheMerits.pdf

About Americans United for Life

Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law.  The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971.  The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS’ Frontline program chronicled AUL’s successful efforts in Mississippi.

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