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Moor-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich

901 N.E.2d 373, 231 Ill.2d 474 (2008)

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Moor-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich

Illinois Supreme Court

901 N.E.2d 373, 231 Ill.2d 474 (2008)

Facts

Moor-Fitz, Inc., and several other Division 1 pharmacies owned by two different pharmacists (plaintiffs) in Illinois had written policies indicating that the pharmacies did not purchase, stock, or dispense drugs the pharmacists believed to have an abortifacient effect, such as Plan B. Over the years, if individuals came in with prescriptions for such drugs, the company policy was explained, and the prescription was immediately returned. In 2005 Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (defendant) issued an emergency rule amending the Illinois Administrative Code. The amendment provided that Division 1 pharmacies were required to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. If the needed contraceptive was not in stock, the pharmacy was required to order it unless the patient preferred to transfer the prescription to a different pharmacy. The amendment also defined the term contraceptive as including all drugs approved by the FDA for preventing pregnancy, including drugs such as Plan B. Moor-Fitz and the other plaintiffs filed suit, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The amended complaint alleged a violation of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The complaint alleged that the rule was unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to the pharmacists. The pharmacists, one a Catholic and one a Christian, asserted that the rule also transgressed the First Amendment and their religious beliefs. The pharmacists believed that human life began at the point of conception and that emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B, cause abortions. Before the matter went to trial, in 2008, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation revised the amendment again in connection with a settlement in a different lawsuit. The additional provisions now mandated that pharmacies that sold contraceptives were required to keep emergency contraceptives in stock. The new provision also implemented a new procedure for dispensing such drugs remotely. The procedure required that if a pharmacist objected to providing emergency contraceptives and no pharmacist without objections was on duty, the pharmacy still had to dispense the drugs through the remote procedure. The remote procedure involved having a different pharmacy authorize the drug to be dispensed by an employee at the dispensing pharmacy who was not a pharmacist. Pharmacies were required to make sure that a nonobjecting pharmacist was on duty or that a licensed pharmacist at an outside pharmacy who could perform the remote procedure was on duty whenever there was no nonobjecting pharmacist on duty. A circuit court dismissed Moor-Fitz’s complaint with prejudice, citing lack of standing and ripeness. The circuit court also dismissed for failing to pursue all administrative remedies. Moor-Fitz appealed. The appellate court upheld the circuit court’s decision. Moor-Fitz and the other plaintiffs sought leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which granted leave and reversed the decision of the appeals court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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