Plan B Case Sent Back to Lower Courts

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A case challenging Illinois' rule requiring pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraceptives will get a second chance in court.

The Illinois Supreme Court decided, Thursday, that the case had not been fairly considered and should be reheard in a circuit court.

Pro-life pharmacists originally filed the lawsuit against the State Board of Pharmacy and several public officials, including Gov. Rod Blagojevich, earlier this year.

They claimed that the rule violated their religious beliefs by forcing them to distribute emergency contraception like Plan B or face penalty.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz dismissed the challenge and an Illinois Appellate Court panel backed the ruling. Thursday's ruling, however, will overturn those decisions.

"Under the current version, the simple failure by plaintiffs to make efforts to stock the contraceptive in question would subject plaintiffs to a range of penalties, including license revocation," the ruling said. "Under these circumstances, application of the rule to plaintiffs cannot be considered remote. Instead, the rule affects their business operations on a day-to-day basis and exposes plaintiffs to strong sanctions."

American Center for Law and Justice represented two of the pro-life pharmacy owners in the case.

"This is a major victory for pro-life health care professionals who have been in legal limbo for years," Francis Manion, ACLJ Senior Counsel, said. "No American should be forced to make a choice between their conscience and their livelihood."

Blagojevich established the rule in April, making Illinois the first state in the country to require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception.

Sources: American Center for Law and Justice, The State Journal-Register

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