Illinois Governor Blagojevich’s (D) emergency rule issued in April requiring pharmacists in Illinois to fill contraceptive prescriptions immediately and without delay will shortly become state law. Yesterday, the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved making Gov. Blagojevich’s temporary rule permanent. The rule states that any pharmacy selling FDA-approved contraceptives, including emergency contraception, must fill all prescriptions. In the event that the pharmacy does not have a particular contraceptive in stock, the pharmacy must offer another contraceptive or transfer the prescription to another pharmacy, reports the Chicago Tribune. Once the rule has been filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, which is expected this week, the rule will become law.
Gov. Blagojevich ordered the emergency rule in April in response to a pharmacist’s refusal to fill two prescriptions for emergency contraception on February 23. The governor linked this incident to the growing national problem of pharmacists’ refusal to fill prescriptions on the basis of moral or religious beliefs. The Illinois rule has the support of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, and this past June, the American Medical Association passed a resolution in support of legislation requiring pharmacists to either fill prescriptions or make an immediate referral to another pharmacy. Five states have also passed legislation barring pharmacists from refusing to dispense medications.