* A big court win for a couple of religious pharmacists…
An Illinois appeals court has ruled in favor of two pharmacists who objected to having to provide emergency contraception on religious grounds, setting a precedent their lawyer hopes will protect others from judicial or state sanctions.
In a seven-year legal campaign, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog set out to shield their pharmacies from a 2005 executive order issued by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich requiring all pharmacists to fill prescriptions for the so-called morning-after pill.
In a lawsuit, they argued that they were protected by the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which says health professionals cannot be punished if they refuse to offer a service because of their conscientious convictions. A circuit court originally dismissed their claim, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that a court must hear it.
Friday’s ruling affirmed an injunction granted by a lower court that found that state law “protects the pharmacists’ decisions not to dispense emergency contraceptives due to their conscience.”
The pharmacists had sued under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which states that health professionals and organizations cannot be discriminated against, coerced or punished civilly or criminally if they decide not to offer a health or medical service because of their conscientious convictions.
“This was the latest affirmative that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act really means what it says,” Manion said. “It provides the broadest protections for the rights of conscience of health care professionals of any law in the country. It strikes an appropriate balance between the rights of people to have access to medical care and … the rights of people who object … to being coerced into violating their conscience.”
The ruling, as decided, applies only to the two pharmacists and does not broadly apply to other pharmacists in the state. But Manion was optimistic about the implications.
“This is plenty, because the precedent that this will set in the state of Illinois means that the state is not going to go after a pharmacist that exercises conscientious objection when they know the court has ruled this way in this case,” he said. “So we’re very happy with it.”
* Other news…
* State paying 6-figure pension to ex-teachers union lobbyist: Once Purkey decided to take advantage of the pension perk, she had to shift money — $666,300 in all — into the state retirement fund in a series of transactions, then start paying into it while she worked at the union, according to interviews, emails and pension records. The money covered the employee and employer contributions that would have been required if she had been in the state fund all along, plus interest.
* Special Report: The unkindest cuts of Medicaid - Uncertainty surrounds impact of lost services: The cuts include the elimination of payments for most adult dental services, the end of the popular Illinois Cares Rx program for senior citizens and disabled Illinoisans, new limits on prescription drugs, reduced eligibility for the Family Care program covering low-income parents, and tighter controls on Medicaid eligibility overall.
* Special Report: Cuts in Medicaid sting seniors, disabled
* Nursing homes sustain cuts, get RN staffing ratios they prefer
* Medicaid expansion: Impact for Illinois could be significant
* Why isn’t Amazon paying sales tax in Illinois?: But other sources say communication has been minimal both ways. That may suggest that Illinois has to take the initiative, rather than waiting around for someone else to do something.