Pharmacists in Illinois can now use their religion as a legitimate reason to deny women access to emergency contraception:
An Illinois appeals court upheld a ruling Friday that exempted pharmacists with religious objections from prescribing emergency contraceptives, finding that the medical professionals were protected by state law. The plaintiffs, both individual pharmacists and corporations that own pharmacies, had challenged an order by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich requiring that pharmacists sell “Plan B,” a brand of the contraceptive also known as the “morning-after pill.”
The court rejected the ACLU’s argument that prescribing emergency contraceptives fell under an exception in the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience for “emergency medical care,” even though doctors testified that the contraceptive was most effective when taken immediately after unprotected intercourse.
So, in other words, if you walk into a pharmacy and request Plan B, a pharmacist in Illinois can hide behind their faith to actively discriminate against women requesting the emergency contraception.
Enchanting, isn’t it?
This sort of gender discrimination masquerading as a way to promote religious tolerance is nothing new, yet it remains disturbing. A Florida woman in 2007 was denied emergency contraception after she was raped. A similar incident happened to a woman in Oklahoma. The Arizona state house voted earlier this year to allow employers to deny birth control coverage due to their religion.
I still find it fascinating that after 20 years it was declared 1992 was the year of the woman, the benefits of Title IX have been realized after more than 30 years of its inception and the apparent closing of the gap between men and women earning college degrees, the issue of women’s reproductive organs and its operations continue to trip up male politicians and social conservative activists. Women’s reproductive rights and the so-called radical belief that we are entitled to equal protection under the law somehow has been lost on the radical, reactionary right and their social conservative grassroots supporters.
The issue of receiving equitable health care services women are inherently entitled to is not about trampling on religious freedom as some zealots would want you to believe. It’s not about forcing people with traditional or evangelical religious view points to accept and tolerate those scantily-clad loose women out there who open their legs up for every Tom, Dick and Harry they run into.
It’s about ensuring that all women have the same access to health care services and prescription drug medication that their male counterparts often take for granted.