Gov. Blagojevich said: "Five weeks ago,
two women called in prescriptions to their local pharmacy in the
South Loop to purchase contraceptives. The law gives them every
right to do that. Each woman had a prescription from her doctor.
Both women only sought to buy contraceptives. And yet both were
denied. Why? Because the pharmacist refused to fill the
this story is not unique to Chicago or to Illinois. Cases like this
have been popping up all over the country. It's happened in
Wisconsin, Texas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, California
and in other states around the country.
"Now I don't believe this is a
coincidence. I have a sneaking suspicion that, in all likelihood,
this is part of a concerted effort to deny women access to birth
control. Those involved in this effort may be getting away with this
in other states, but here in Illinois we are not going to let that
On Friday, Gov. Blagojevich filed an
emergency rule requiring pharmacies that sell contraceptives to fill
prescriptions for birth control without delay. If the contraceptive
or a suitable alternative is not in stock, the pharmacy must order
or obtain the contraceptive or, if the patient prefers, transfer the
prescription to another local pharmacy of the patient's choice or
return it to the patient.
"Our regulation says that if a woman
goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the
pharmacy is not allowed to discriminate who they sell it to and who
they don't," the governor explained. "The pharmacy will be expected
to accept that prescription and fill it in the same way, and in the
same period of time they would fill any other prescription. No
delays. No hassles. No lecture. Just fill the prescription," he
"Contraceptive drugs lawfully
prescribed by a physician should be available to anyone with a valid
prescription without delay or other interference," said Carolyn A.
Webber, MD, president of the American Medical Women's Association.
"We support the governor's efforts today to improve women's health."
Nancy Keenan, national president of
NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: "There shouldn't be anything even
remotely controversial about going to the drugstore to pick up your
birth control prescription, but the anti-choice movement's
willingness to intrude on our personal lives does not know any
bounds. It is beyond nonsensical, and it's time to stand up for
women's right to control our personal decisions and take personal
responsibility for our reproductive health. The women of Illinois
should be very proud to have a governor like Rod Blagojevich, who
wants government to support our personal choices instead of limiting
After its investigation into the
complaints filed against the South Loop pharmacy, the Illinois
Department of Financial and Professional Regulation filed a formal
complaint Friday against the pharmacy for failing to provide
appropriate pharmaceutical care to a patient. The pharmacy was also
charged with lacking an appropriate procedure to dispense
"I don't think these are the only
two times this has ever happened in Illinois," Blagojevich said. "My
guess is it's happened a lot more than we know. If this has happened
to you -- or if this does happen to you -- we want to know about it,
and we'll help you."
[to top of second
column in this article]
The governor introduced a new toll-free
number where women can report to state regulators if a pharmacy
fails to dispense a prescription contraceptive in an appropriate and
timely manner. The toll-free number is 1 (800) 280-4149, and the
complaint unit at Illinois Department of Financial and Professional
Regulation has been specially trained to handle pharmacy complaints.
In July of 2003, the governor signed
the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act, which requires
private health insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to
also cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices.
"Today -- in the 21st century -- our
actions are nothing more than protecting a woman's right to have the
same access to health care as men do," said Gov. Blagojevich.
"Nothing more. Nothing less."
"Governor Blagojevich has worked
diligently to increase access to quality health care for women, men
and children," said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. "He
worked with me to pass the Contraceptive Equity Act, and now I both
applaud and thank him for taking yet another giant step on behalf of
the women of the state of Illinois by guaranteeing that they have
both coverage and access to critical health care services."
Karen Pearl, national president of
Planned Parenthood, said: "Planned Parenthood is proud to stand
alongside the governor today and thank him for his leadership in
Illinois and in the United States to safeguard reproductive rights
and to protect women's health."
Rachel Laser, senior counsel at the
National Women's Law Center, said: "Governor Blagojevich has taken a
forceful stand for Illinois women's right to have their basic health
care needs met at the pharmacy. Unfortunately, women elsewhere in
the country aren't guaranteed that same comfort. We encourage other
governors to follow Governor Blagojevich's lead and take action to
protect women's access to health care at the pharmacy."
governor's actions Friday build on his efforts over the past two
years to ensure that Illinois women have access to high-quality,
affordable health care. Some of his initiatives include:
- Illinois Healthy Women -- to help
provide up to 120,000 women leaving Medicaid with basic health
care and reproductive health education. The program offers women
comprehensive reproductive health care coverage, including annual
physicals, Pap smears, mammograms, contraceptives and treatment
for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Stand Against Cancer Initiative
-- to encourage early detection of breast and cervical cancer,
screening and treatment.
- KidCare and FamilyCare health
insurance programs -- to provide comprehensive health care
coverage for 20,000 additional children and 65,000 working parents
in the first year and a total of 300,000 parents over three years.
- Family Planning Program -- to
providee a range of medical services and education to more than
175,000 low-income women and adolescents of reproductive age.
[News release from the governor's office]