HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pharmacists and Plan B in Illinois

In Ethan Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., an Illinois federal district court has refused to dismiss a suit by Illinois pharmacists that they should not be required to comply with a  2005 rule by Governor Rod Blegojevich requiring Illinois pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception/Plan even if individual pharmacists disprove of the medication for religious or moral reasons.  According to a brief write-up by  PJStar.com,

Several pharmacists employed by Wal-Mart and Walgreen Co. have been disciplined for either refusing to dispense Plan B or for refusing to promise that they would dispense emergency contraception if asked.

U.S. District Judge Jeanne Scott denied a request Tuesday by Wal-Mart to throw out a lawsuit filed by pharmacist Ethan Vandersand. Scott sided with Vandersand, who had claimed he was legally protected from discipline by the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act when he declined to dispense Plan B.

Vandersand, who lives in Bluffs, formerly worked at the pharmacy in Beardstown's Wal-Mart. He was put on unpaid leave after he refused to fill a Plan B prescription requested by a nurse practitioner at Springfield's Planned Parenthood on behalf of a female patient in February 2006.  Wal-Mart had contended the state's right-of-conscience law doesn't cover pharmacists. Walgreen Co. has made the same argument in other Illinois lawsuits filed by fired pharmacists.

But Scott wrote in her ruling, "The statute prohibits discrimination against any person for refusing to provide health care because of his conscience."

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