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Illinois pharmacists win conscience rights battle

Two Illinois pharmacists today won their final battle seeking conscience rights in dispensing emergency contraception after the Illinois attorney general notified the state Supreme Court that she would not appeal a lower court ruling. 

Pharmacy owners Luke Vander Bleek of Morrison and Glenn Kosirog of Wheaton sued the state over an emergency rule instituted by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2005 requiring all pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception. The rule was later made permanent.

Vander Bleek and Kosirog said the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act protected their right not to dispense the "morning after pill." Such drugs can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus akin to a chemical abortion.

An Illinois appeals court in September ruled in favor of the two pharmacy owners. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could have appealed the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, but "decided not to pursue further review of this matter," according to a letter sent from her office to the court's clerk.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois in March joined an amicus brief in support of Vander Bleek and Kosirog.

The decision applies only to the two pharmacists.