The firing of four Illinois-based Walgreens pharmacists over their failure to dispense abortion drugs, has sparked a call for a nationwide boycott of the drugstore, and gained the backing of a local Catholic diocese.
The Diocese of Belleville, IL, led by Bishop Edward Braxton, has announced its support for a boycott of the Chicago-headquartered pharmacy, and its implementation of a letter-writing campaign asking local Catholics to do the same.
The pharmacists were fired for failing to comply with the company’s policy of dispensing the controversial morning-after pill, also known as Plan B.
The pill has been heavily disputed by pro-life advocates for causing early-term abortions by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting onto a woman’s uterine wall
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Ann Polka, manager of the local Project Rachel organization, a post-abortion healing program, said that the firings were “…an unjust action…They are being let go because they couldn't in good conscience dispense the drugs."
She added that "These pharmacists are very courageous…We as Catholic Christians need to stand behind this."
Walgreens officials have argued that they are simply complying to a Illinois state law which requires pharmacists to dispense the drug.
"This (rule)”, Polka said however, “is unjustly imposed on Illinois by (Gov.) Rod Blagojevich. It's puzzling to me that pharmacists do not have a discretionary power."
According to the News-Democrat, Abby Ottenhoff, a spokesperson for the Governor, said that pharmacists are free to work at stores which do not sell the drug.
"They certainly have the right to their personal opinions,” he said “but that cannot get in the way of a woman's right to get the care that her doctor has prescribed for her…If it is approved by the FDA and approved by a doctor, it is not a pharmacist's place to deny access."
Pro-life groups and local Catholics disagree however, and have vowed to fight the policy.