IL Pharmacists Can Exercise Conscience

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Pro-life pharmacists in Illinois will not be forced to dispense "abortion producing" drugs, a state circuit court has ruled.

And elsewhere, pro-life organizations race against the April 9 deadline to lodge their public comment against the Obama Administration's plans to repeal the "Conscience Clause," also known as the Provider Conscience Regulation.

In Illinois, Sangamon County Judge John Belz blocked state officials from enforcing a regulation that forces health care workers to administer emergency contraceptives like Plan B, also known as the "morning after" pill.

The decision temporarily upholds the state's "Health Care Right of Conscience Act." That law gives doctors the right to decline a service or procedure if it goes against their beliefs. In June, the court will consider the pharmacists' request for permanent protection.

"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," said Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice.

Manion represented pharmacy owners Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog in the case. Both workers say they believe morning-after pills are a form of abortion.

The ACLJ had been involved in the case since 2005 when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich enacted a rule overturning the conscience act.

"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," Manion added.

President Barack Obama has caught criticism from pro-life activists over the so-called "conscience clause," which allows pro-life doctors to refuse abortion procedures.

Obama has said he plans to overturn the bill which offers protection to health care workers on the federal level.

Meanwhile, the public is encouraged to file their comments to the administration until Thursday, April 9.

Liberty Council, a pro-life conservative organization, filed a public comment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.

"The purpose of the Conscience Regulation is to protect healthcare providers from invidious discrimination when they rely upon their moral or religious beliefs, particularly when confronted with a request to perform an abortion," the Council said in the public statement.

"The idea of a conscience regulation is not new. The Conscience Regulation merely makes healthcare providers aware of their rights, enforces already-existing federal laws, and gives healthcare providers a remedy when they face discrimination based upon their moral or religious beliefs."

The ACLJ says it has heard from more than 200,000 Americans urging the President to keep the current policy in place.

To let your voice be heard on the "Conscience Clause," visit the Be Heard Project Web site or other links on the right side of the page.

Source: American Center for Law and Justice, The State Journal-Register, Liberty Council

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