A couple of recent local court decisions have given me a new appreciation for the proper definition of justice, and what that should entail.
The first case involves Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who issued an order in 2005 stating that pharmacists must dispense the abortive Plan B, even though state law prohibits enforcement of health-care decisions over religious objections.
In a report at the time, it was noted that
In April 2005, Blagojevich had filed an emergency rule demanding that pharmacists fill emergency contraceptive prescriptions quickly once a valid order for the drug is presented. …
Illinois Pharmacists Association Executive Director Michael Patton, in a letter to the governor, argued that the governor's order "requires pharmacists and pharmacy operators to comply with one specific set of beliefs." He added that forcing pharmacists to act against their personal moral beliefs "is a recipe for disaster."
Now a Circuit Court judge has ruled that state officials cannot force pharmacists to violate their consciences. Pharmacy owners, Luke Vander Bleek of Morrison and Glenn Kosirog of Wheaton, Illinois, did not want to fill prescriptions for Plan B because of the potential the pills have to abort preborn children during their first days of life. Even though the
…ruling doesn't resolve Vander Bleek and Kosirog's complaints that the state's emergency contraception rule violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act and pharmacy owners' federal rights surrounding freedom of religion, … Francis Manion, a lawyer representing the businessmen, said the decision was 'absolutely a victory.'
The American Center for Law and Justice statement touts the win, reporting
"This is yet another step on the road to full protection for the rights of conscience of all health care workers," said Francis J. Manion, ACLJ Senior Counsel who argued the motion for the TRO [temporary restraining order] on behalf of the pharmacists. "In ruling in favor of our clients, the court rejected the attempt of Illinois officials to trample on the rights of our clients and disregard existing laws passed by the legislature for the very purpose of protecting those rights. We will continue to press this issue until we have obtained full protection for the conscience rights of these professionals who should not have to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and license revocation and other penalties."
In issuing the Order, Judge John Belz found that the regulation posed a real threat of irreparable harm to pharmacists with religious objections to selling such drugs and that our clients – Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog – two pharmacists who own five pharmacies between them – were "likely to succeed" on the merits of their claim that the regulation violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. A hearing on the pharmacists' request for a permanent injunction will be held sometime in June.
Clearly this decision is not the last word but it is a major step in the struggle to protect the right of conscience.
On the other end of the judicial spectrum, we find a U. S. District Court in Arizona ruling that favors the position of J. Christopher Carey, M.D. who was fired, in his opinion, because of his public support for abortion training. In 2005, when the case began, MS Magazine reported
The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with other lawyers, will represent Dr. Carey in a suit that claims the Maricopa Medical Center violated his freedom of speech, and discriminated against him for his pro-choice views. "Over the course of 18 months, county officials engaged in a relentless crusade to prevent residents at the medical center from getting abortion training with no regard for fairness or accreditation requirements. Every time I spoke out, they retaliated," said Carey.
The recent court victory for the abortion-minded doctor means that Carey
…can pursue claims against Maricopa County, members of the county board of supervisors and individuals who allegedly took action to have him removed from the position because of his support for an abortion residency rotation….
The lawsuits against the county and other parties were brought in 2005, in which Carey charged that his constitutional rights under the first and fourteenth amendments were violated, that he experienced discrimination based on religious and moral beliefs under both state and federal law, and that there was intentional interference with his contractual relationship with his practice group.
The interesting contrast between the two courts decisions centers on scientific facts which abortion proponents choose to define as religious beliefs.
In the pharmacists' case, their knowledge of how Plan B worked and their resistance to having anything to do with the pill created an unbearable situation for them. Governor Blagojevich's rule would have forced them to either leave the profession or take part in actions they found morally and ethically offensive. They were discriminated against because their position, based on scientific facts, was offensive to those in power whose beliefs support so-called reproductive health, which is nothing more than code words for abortion. The pro-abortion position despises God. Those who understand basic scientific fact, and have properly formed consciences, are a threat to those who support abortion. As a result, the powerful demonize the faithful.
On the other hand, the Arizona pro-abortion physician is claiming that he was fired because he supported an initiative that allowed medical residents to participate in an abortion rotation with a Planned Parenthood facility. His abortion advocacy allegedly disturbed local leaders who, according to Carey, imposed their religious and moral beliefs on him, resulting in his job loss. Carey claims he was discriminated against, but in my opinion, he was fired because he refused to admit that on its face the act of abortion is a violent act that takes the life of one person and ruins the life of that person's mother.
The sad fact is that Carey was able to use a false argument, discrimination, before the court to win the right to take legal action against people who understand the truth and are unwilling to bend that truth. The powerful demonize the faithful.
We should pray that the American Center for Law and Justice is able to continue prevailing in the important case in Illinois. At the same time, we should understand that the court system in the United States, at nearly every level, is riddled with a false understanding of the precise point where scientific fact begins and religious convictions end.
One need not be a religious person to understand that committing an abortion will result in someone's death.
What one does need to be is honest. Only then can there be genuine justice.
Justice inclines one to respect the rights of others. But doing so requires honesty in recognizing the humanity of all persons, regardless of age, health or condition of dependency including those not yet born. This is why, whether one is a pharmacist in Illinois or a county council member in Maricopa County, Arizona, each should be an advocate for human personhood sooner rather than later.
Justice demands it.