Plan B: Trouble in Illinois

A judge rules the state can't force pharmacists to dispense morning-after pills.

Published April 7, 2009 10:06PM (EDT)

Just last week, Broadsheet's Lynn Harris warned us to watch out for Idaho, where the House of Representatives had passed a bill letting pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions offensive to their moral or religious sensibilities. "No matter where this goes," she pointed out, "what's happening in Idaho and elsewhere should serve as reminders that if we slip into complacency, then we're the fools."

Indeed, Idaho was but one stop on the "right of refusal" crazy train. On Monday, an Illinois judge ruled that the state couldn't force two anti-choice pharmacists to dispense Plan B morning-after pills, despite a 2005 state rule that says they have to. Since the two druggists own five pharmacies between them, all located in rural northern Illinois, the decision could make for a serious impingement on local women's access to emergency contraception.

Meanwhile, over in Washington, legislators are getting ready to wrestle it out in the national mud pit. There's just two days left for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hear public comment on Obama's proposed repeal of the federal "provider conscience" regulation -- Bush's last-minute law expanding the ability of medical practitioners to deny their patients' basic health care, without informing them of alternatives or giving referrals to other providers. Head over to the National Partnership for Women and Families or the NYCLU if you're moved to send HHS a wee communiqué.

By Abigail Kramer

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