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Court backs pharmacy birth control refusal

April 6, 2011 at 11:44 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 6 (UPI) -- An Illinois judge has voided a law forcing druggists to sell morning-after emergency birth control.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz ruled Tuesday in favor of pharmacy owners Luke Vander Bleek of Morrison and Glenn Kosirog of Wheaton, who object to the practice on religious grounds, The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., reported.

"We're thrilled. The law of Illinois and the law of the United States make it clear that people can enter the healthcare profession without having to check their conscience or religion at the door," said Mark Rienzi, one of the pharmacists' lawyers.

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan will appeal the ruling, said spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler. "We're disappointed," she said. "There is a compelling need for emergency contraceptives to be available at all licensed pharmacies."

Belz said pharmacists are shielded by the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act and the First Amendment when they refuse to perform services "that violate their beliefs."

Vander Bleek and Kosirog consider emergency contraception that keeps a fertilized egg from implanting in a uterus equivalent to abortion.

The medicine is not an "abortion pill," which dislodges a fertilized egg from the uterus.

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