A US District Judge in Illinois last week ruled in favor of a pharmacist who refused to dispense emergency contraception (EC or Plan B) to a patient for personal and moral reasons. Ethan Vandersand brought the case against his former employer, Wal-Mart, after he was put on unpaid leave for refusing to fill a request for Plan B, which is now available over-the-counter to people over the age of 18, for a Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner.
Despite a 2005 law issued by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) that requires Illinois pharmacists to either dispense or ensure timely access to Plan B upon request, Judge Jeanne Scott ruled that Vandersand was protected under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Wal-Mart and Walgreen Co. — which have both terminated or disciplined employees for refusing to fill Plan B requests — maintain that Illinois’ conscience laws do not apply to pharmacists.
According to the Sauk Valley Newspaper, this ruling will not affect Gov. Blagojevich’s executive order, nor will it affect another suit filed by another pharmacy owner in Illinois.