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A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the Governor of Illinois, protecting two pharmacists from having to dispense “Plan B” contraceptive pills due to religious objections. From the story:

A central Illinois judge has ruled that the state can’t force two pharmacists with religious objections to abortion to dispense emergency contraception. Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz issued a temporary restraining order Friday until he can hear arguments against the rule from druggists who object on religious grounds.

The pill reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex. The pharmacists believe it’s tantamount to abortion.

Belz is the same judge who sided with the state and dismissed the lawsuit filed in 2005 by Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who own five northern Illinois pharmacies between them...The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in December that the pharmacists’ case must be heard. The court decided then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who issued a rule in 2005 ordering pharmacies to dispense the so-called “morning-after” pill, had made statements indicating there would be no exceptions. “You cannot enact a law that targets people because of their religious objection,” Manion said Monday.

I hate it when the media report stories about these kinds of matters and state that so and so “believes” something. I don’t know the answer to this question: But either Plan B works as an abortifacient or it doesn’t. It isn’t a matter of “belief.”

In any event, this doesn’t mean that the pharmacists have won the case. It merely means the rule can’t be enforced for now. However, it does mean that the judge believes that the pharmacists could win their case, which is a clear change since his original ruling.

The issue of conscience clauses is just getting warmed up. It will be a huge bioethical issue for years to come.

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