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Federal bill would require pharmacists to fill contraception prescriptions

[JURIST] In response to recent refusals by some pharmacists objecting on moral grounds to filling prescriptions for emergency contraceptives or birth control pills, federal legislators unveiled a draft bill [PDF] on Thursday that would require pharmacies to fill all prescriptions, placing the impetus on the pharmacy and not on individual pharmacists. Sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the bill is strongly supported by women's rights advocates including NARAL Pro-Choice America [advocacy website]. Pharmacists for Life [advocacy website] and other conservative groups have announced their opposition to the bill. The American Pharmacists Association [professional association website] supports allowing pharmacists to follow their conscience, but states than an alternative should be available to fill the prescription. Reuters has more. Sen. Lautenberg's office has issued a press release on the proposed law.

On the state level, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed an emergency order [press release; press conference video] on April 1 requiring Illinois pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception even if it violates their religious beliefs; on April 13, two affected pharmacists filed a lawsuit [AP report; ACLJ press release] claiming that the rule was unenforceable and violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act [text; more information on protection of conscience laws]. The litigation is ongoing.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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