Rod Blagojevich is long gone, and Gov. Pat Quinn is the one under the microscope (Photo used under Creative Commons/Flickr Charlie Arbogast)
By David Stanczak
Blago is long gone, but his stench lingers.
The State of Illinois got a shot of Febreze last month when the 4th District Appellate Court, decided a case called Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Quinn.
Quinn was substituted for Blago as a defendant when he didn’t have the common decency and respect for conscience to end one of the more unsavory but little-known vestiges of Gov. Hairball.
In 2005, when Blago promulgated a rule requiring community pharmacies to “dispense contraceptives…to the patient or patient’s agent without delay,” he “publicly warned that Illinois pharmacists who violate the rule face significant penalties, ranging from fines to the loss of professional licenses.” Some pharmacists objected as a matter of conscience since some of the contraceptives caused abortions. That moral objection was summarily ignored by Blago and Quinn, who reformulated the rule, still refusing to add a conscience or religious based exception.
The fact that other pharmacies or pharmacists who didn’t have moral scruples about filling the prescriptions might be available to fill them wasn’t good enough for them. If a woman wanted an abortifacient prescription, it must be filled, a-la-William J. Lepetomaine, immediately, immediately, immediately! Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph”
In 1977, the General Assembly passed the Conscience Act, which made it unlawful for public officials to discriminate against any person, …in licensing “because of such person’s conscientious refusal to…participate in any…health care services contrary to his or her conscience.”
The Morr-Fitz plaintiffs challenged the application of the Blago rule to them and won; the appellate court held that the Conscience Act applied to and invalidated the rule. We are admonished to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. But Caesar also needs to leave us free to render unto God that which is God’s according to our consciences.
It’s sad that it took an appellate court to right the wrong because administrators, including Quinn, who portrays himself as a Catholic, were too morally bankrupt to do the right thing.
David Stanczak, a Forum commentator since 1995, came to Bloomington in 1971. He served as the City of Bloomington’s first full-time legal counsel for over 18 years, before entering private practice. He is currently employed by the Snyder Companies and continues to reside in Bloomington with his family.
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