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Pharmacists claim victory in conscience rights fight

An Illinois appeals court today ruled in favor of two Illinois pharmacists who sued the state in seeking conscience rights against dispensing emergency contraception.

The victory ends a seven-year legal battle prompted by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's emergency rule instituted in 2005, calling for all Illinois pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception. The rule was later made permanent.

Pharmacy owners Luke Vander Bleek of Morrison and Glenn Kosirog of Wheaton sued the state over the rule, saying 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.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois in March joined an amicus brief in support of the pharmacists' case.

The court ruling applies only to Vander Bleek and Kosirog and their pharmacies.