Neil Noesen thought he had done everything right. Wisconsin had no explicit law or policy on the books to cover such a situation, but he had notified his employer in writing about his objections. "I took the exact language that was written by an attorney from one of the pending bills in the state of Wisconsin, which stated what participation is," he says. "It is not to aid, abet, assist, or encourage in any way—but it did not include the word transfer, so the prosecution got me on a technicality."

That was only the beginning. After Wisconsin decided against him for refusing to fill an emergency contraceptive prescription or transfer it to another pharmacist, Noesen moved to Minnesota. He took a job as a pharmacist with Snyder's, which fired him after two weeks when he again refused to fill certain prescriptions. Noesen claimed that an injustice was being committed and refused to leave the grounds when asked, a move that only managed to get him arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Back in Wisconsin, on June 27, 2005, the Pharmacy Examining Board considered Noesen's petition for more time to pay the $20,000 he owed for the earlier judgment against him. Despite his claim that he was "not in a position to pay the full amount of the costs," Noesen's appeal was denied. Unable to pay the bill, his fine now accrues interest of 12 percent a year.

A month later, on July 26, Noesen was arrested again, this time at a Wal-Mart in Onalaska, Wisconsin, where he had once more refused to fill birth-control prescriptions. Management asked him to leave the store after the incident, and he was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct. To add to his troubles, the court issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of bail jumping ...

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