Ruling: Illinois pharmacists can refuse to dispense Plan B

Illinois attorney general pledges to pursue ‘plan B’ in maintaining access to Plan B

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Circuit Judge John Belz on Tuesday ruled that Illinois pharmacists could refuse to dispense the emergency contraceptive Plan B, despite a 2005 edict that required pharmacists to dispense Plan B, regardless of their religious beliefs, according to published reports.

The 2005 order issued by former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich came at a time when a Food and Drug Administration decision to not allow Plan B to be sold over the counter became a hotly contested political debate. Plan B (levonorgestrel) and several generic equivalents are presently available for sale behind the pharmacy counter.

The state ruling affirms the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which was passed in 1998 and protects healthcare providers from being sued for practicing according to their moral beliefs.

According to a USA Today report, Circuit Judge John Belz wrote that the 1998 law "was designed to forbid the government from doing what it aims to do here: coercing individuals or entities to provide healthcare services that violate their belief."

The state attorney general's office will appeal the decision, reports stated.

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