This past Friday the Illinois Appellate Court reaffirmed a lower court ruling allowing, not only the individual pharmacists, but the pharmacy as a whole to refuse to serve customers who have a legal prescription for emergency contraceptives known as "The Morning After Pill".
In 2005, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich mandated that all pharmacists and pharmacies sell "Plan B," the brand name for a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours.
Some anti-abortion advocates object to the drugs, which work by preventing the release of an egg, preventing fertilization or stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
In 2011, an Illinois judge entered an injunction against the rule, finding no evidence that the drugs had ever been denied on religious grounds, and that the law was not neutral since it was designed to target religious objectors.
The Illinois appellate court agreed that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protects pharmacists' decision not to dispense the contraceptives due to their beliefs.
So, the question now is whether, as a business owner, I can refuse to hire someone who, based on THEIR religious beliefs, will (not could) hurt my business by refusing to serve my customers. By refusing to fill legal prescriptions this could harm my business, as a whole, because my pharmacy customers are, in all likelihood, purchasing other merchandise including impulse and POS (point of sale) items. Those customers will now take their business to my competitors.
In other words, the state has imposed a financial burden upon my business so that my employees or prospective employees may exercise their individual religious freedom. The state has just said they don't care if my customers will shop somewhere else, the pharmacist's right to refuse to do their job is more important than my business and my customers.