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Illinois governor writes prescription for trouble, CLS and ADF file suit on behalf of pharmacist

Gov. Blagojevich’s “emergency rule” at odds with state Right of Conscience law
Published On: 10/18/2017

WAUKEGAN, Ill.—The Christian Legal Society and Alliance Defense Fund filed suit today against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on behalf of a Lake County pharmacist.  Blagojevich’s “emergency rule” filed this month compels pharmacists to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral objections they may have.

“The governor’s order is a bitter pill that no one should have to swallow,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb.  “It is not legitimate to force a pharmacist to violate his conscience in this manner.  A patient ordering ‘morning after’ pills can easily be referred to another pharmacist who has no moral objection to filling the prescription.”

The lawsuit, David Scimio v. Rod R. Blagojevich, et al., was filed in the Circuit Court of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Lake County, Illinois.  Scimio, a Christian pharmacist whose conscience would be violated by filling prescriptions for abortifacients, decided to file suit after Blagojevich filed his “emergency rule.”

The lawsuit contends that the rule violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which states that the public policy of Illinois is to “respect and protect the right of conscience” of health care professionals.  The act also prohibits “all forms of discrimination, disqualification, coercion, disability, or imposition of liability” upon persons who refuse to deliver such services based upon a matter of conscience.

“Governor Blagojevich must not be allowed to ignore the law and elevate convenience over individual rights of religious belief and moral conscience,” said CLS Litigation Counsel Casey Mattox.  “We are hopeful that the judicial department of the State of Illinois will fulfill its proper function by restraining the governor from remaking state law in the image of his own personal political viewpoints.”

The lawsuit also contends that Blagojevich also violated Illinois law by not allowing any public hearing on his rule and by failing to obtain proper authorization from a majority of the Board of Pharmacy.  The suit additionally argues that the rule violates Scimio’s religious freedoms guaranteed under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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