November 2, 2007
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TRENTON, N.J. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today applauded Governor Jon Corzine's decision to sign a bill into law that will help ensure women's ability to access birth control at the pharmacy. The bill, sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Assemblywoman Linda Stender, makes New Jersey one of a handful of states to protect patient's ability to access prescriptions at the pharmacy.

"Today's law strikes an important balance between protecting patient's health and religious freedom," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU-NJ.

The pharmacy access law requires pharmacies to fill prescriptions for in-stock drugs or devices without undue delay, despite the sincerely held moral, philosophical or religious beliefs of an individual pharmacist. Pharmacies employing pharmacists who object to filling prescriptions can accommodate the objection so long as the pharmacy ensures that customers receive their prescriptions, including birth control, at the pharmacy without undue delay.

"Access to safe and effective contraception is a central component of basic health care for women," said Jacobs. "This law will go a long way toward ending sex discrimination at the pharmacy."

The ACLU's long-held advocacy for both reproductive rights and religious liberty uniquely positions the organization to address this issue. In April, the ACLU released a report, "Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights: Accessing Birth Control at the Pharmacy," which examines legal questions raised when a pharmacist or pharmacy refuses to provide contraception based on a religious objection.

The report is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/2pms2q