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ACLJ Adds Additional Pharmacists to Lawsuit against Illinois Governor Challenging Order Requiring Pharmacists to Dispense Morning-after Pill.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which specializes in constitutional law, today filed an amended complaint in state court in Illinois adding four additional pharmacists to its lawsuit challenging Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's emergency amendment to the state code requiring pharmacists to dispense medication even if filling the prescriptions violate their conscience and religious beliefs. The ACLJ initially filed suit in mid-April on behalf of two pharmacists and today's action brings the total to six pharmacists who contend the Governor's order is unenforceable.

"The Governor's directive continues to cause concern for a growing number of pharmacists who don't believe they should have to put their religious beliefs aside to keep their jobs," said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which is representing the pharmacists. "The law is clear: pharmacists should not be punished for adhering to their religious beliefs. A growing number of pharmacists believe the Governor's directive forces them to dispense abortion producing drugs - something that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. We're hopeful that the court will recognize that the Governor's directive is legally flawed and will move to protect the constitutional rights of pro-life pharmacists."

The ACLJ today filed an amended lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Springfield, Illinois adding the names of four pharmacists to the two plaintiffs represented in the April filing.

The ACLJ already represents Peggy Pace, who works in Glen Carbon, and John Menges, who works in Collinsville. With today's filing, the ACLJ also represents Gaylord Richard Quayle of Belleville, Amanda Varner of Carbondale, Jim Lynch who works in southern Illinois, and Michael Melvin who works in Carbondale. The lawsuit contends all six pharmacists are opposed to dispensing the morning-after pill and/or "Plan B" medication because of their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs. The pharmacists believe the drugs are abortion producing medications.

The lawsuit contends that the Governor's emergency amendment is unenforceable because it violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act which makes it unlawful for any public official to discriminate or punish any person who refuses to "participate in any way in any particular form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience." The suit also charges the emergency amendment violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit requests the court grant an injunction preventing the measure from being enforced and asks the court to declare the directive unenforceable and null and void.

The ACLJ also is defending a national law protecting health care workers from discrimination. The measure, which is being challenged in the federal courts, bars federal funds from going to federal or state programs that discriminate against health care professionals who do not participate in abortion services. The ACLJ represents members of Congress - including Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-FL), the sponsors of the measure.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ specializes in constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. and is online at www.aclj.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 26, 2005
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