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ACLJ Files Suit Against K-Mart for Firing Pharmacist Who Refused to Dispense 'Morning After Pill'

CINCINNATI (BUSINESS WIRE) - The American Center for Law and Justice, an international public interest law firm, today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on behalf of a pharmacist who was fired by K-Mart for refusing to dispense birth control medication known as the "morning after pill." "No employer should be permitted to hold an employee's religious beliefs hostage in exchange for keeping their job," said Francis J. Manion, Senior Regional Counsel of The American Center for Law and Justice - Midwest. "Both federal and state law makes it illegal to fire a person because of their religion. K-Mart violated those laws when they fired our client because she refused to abandon her religious beliefs."

The ACLJ filed suit on behalf of Karen Brauer, a pharmacist who was fired by K-Mart in December 1996 after refusing to dispense a product called Micronor. The suit contends that Brauer, who holds a master's degree in Medicinal Chemistry from Purdue University, believes that drugs currently being marketed as "morning after pills" or "emergency contraception" are not true contraceptives, but, rather, actually cause abortions of living human beings. Such drugs act after fertilization has taken place to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall.

The lawsuit contends that when Brauer refused to sign a K-Mart document saying that she would dispense such drugs regardless of her beliefs, K-Mart fired her from her position as pharmacist in the company's store in Hamilton, Ohio.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against K-Mart and alleges that her firing violated both federal and state law. At the same time, the suit contends that as a result of Brauer's termination, she "has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses in earnings, retirement benefits, and other employment benefits, and has suffered and continues to suffer damage with regard to her professional standing."

Manion said: "Ohio law makes it illegal for an employer to fire somebody whose conscience won't let them participate in abortion procedures. Karen Brauer's situation falls squarely within the language of the law. What K-Mart did was against the law. We intend to make them answer for their illegal actions by compensating Karen Brauer for the damages she has suffered."

Manion said the issue of pharmacists' conscience rights was recognized by the American Pharmaceutical Association last year at its annual convention which acknowledged "the individual pharmacists' right to exercise conscientious refusal" to dispense certain medications.

Thomas W. Condit, an attorney from Cincinnati, Ohio, is assisting the ACLJ in this lawsuit.

The American Center for Law and Justice is an international public interest law firm and educational organization that focuses on pro-life, pro-family, and pro-liberty issues. The ACLJ is headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA and the Web site address is www.aclj.org.

Contact: The American Center for Law and Justice Francis Manion, 502/549-7020 or 502/549-5320