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Pharmacists Glenn Kosirog and Luke Vander Bleek will soon be back in court to argue that they shouldn't be forced to dispense emergency contraception, thanks to a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

The court said the businessmen have the right to legally contest a 2005 order requiring pharmacies to offer the morning-after pill—an order the plaintiffs call a violation of their religious beliefs.

"If we can't make a decision on what drugs we can and cannot give, what rights do we have as U.S. citizens?" asked Kosirog, a member of College Church, a prominent evangelical congregation in Wheaton, Illinois.

In an increasing number of venues, health workers' consciences are clashing with patients' rights. Battles over issues such as whether a religious doctor must dispense emergency contraception (Illinois and Washington) or, in an extreme case, artificially inseminate a lesbian (California) extend to the nation's capital.

D.C. observers in both camps anticipate imminent congressional or presidential action to overturn one of former President George W. Bush's final acts: a rule upholding conscience claims in the medical field. The week before Bush left office, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and seven states led by Connecticut filed suit against the federal regulation, which protects health workers' right to refuse to provide care they find morally or ethically objectionable.

"There's increasing recognition on the part of health workers that their religious view that every life is worth protecting is protected, and they're beginning to assert it," said Steve Aden, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.

Christian Medical Association CEO David Stevens claims the ultimate goal of patients' ...

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In the Magazine

March 2009

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