Emergency Contraception Case Lands in Illinois Supreme Court

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Pharmacists shouldn’t be forced to dispense the “morning-after pill,” a form of emergency contraception known as Plan B, lawyers argued yesterday in the Illinois Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports.

Plan B, sold by Barr Labs, is simply a high dose version of the same hormones used in birth control pills; it reduces the risk of pregnancy if taken in the first 72 hours after unprotected sex. But some pharmacists, arguing that the pills in some cases may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, have objected to an Illinois rule that requires pharmacies to dispense the drug. They say the requirement violates a state law that prohibits making health care decisions over moral objections.

The rule was implemented in 2005, and there’s been a fair bit of legal wrangling over it already, with an effort to work out a compromise solution. Under a settlement of another suit reached last year, individual pharmacists in Illinois who believe dispensing the pills would violate their religious beliefs don’t have to be the ones to process the order. But owners of the pharmacies are obligated to find a way to fulfill each woman’s prescription.

A similar law in Washington state is also working its way through the courts. And last year, the Pope last year said Catholics shouldn’t dispense emergency contraception.

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