Pharmacists Pitch Political Battle in Illinois

At Prescriptions Plus in southern Illinois, two of the staff pharmacists will sell the morning-after pill (search), but not Ron Stephens.

As a pharmacist of 30 years and current GOP member of the Illinois state House, Stephens represents one side in an ethical battle now playing out in drugstores nationwide — whether pharmacists should legally be allowed to deny women oral contraceptives based on their personal moral or religious views.

"In my mind, the morning-after pill is the same as an abortion," Stephens told FOX News.

Three pharmacists have sued Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich (search), who issued an emergency rule requiring drug stores to make available some method of meeting requests for oral contraceptives.

"No delays, no hassles, no lectures. Just fill the prescription," Blagojevich said on April 1.

"We're not about lecturing anybody. We're not about trying to impose my values on anyone. I'm just saying to the governor, don't impose your values or lack of them on me," Stephens said.

Exact figures are unavailable about the number of women denied oral contraceptives at drugstores nationwide. But advocacy groups tracking his controversy say one indicator suggests it has been picking up in frequency since 1997.

Lawmakers in 28 states have introduced bills to allow pharmacists to say no.

"It doesn't matter how many cases they are. Every time a woman comes into a pharmacy, they have an expectation and a right to get their prescription filled," said Steve Trombley of Planned Parenthood.

Trombley said 95 percent of women use contraceptives at some point and it is unfair to deprive them of a basic health care need.

But Stephens insists that he is not doing anything to deny women access to health care.

"We're not saying don't fill it, we're just saying don't ask me to violate my religious beliefs by filling it," he said, adding that he wonders why women have the right to choose and pharmacists like him do not.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.