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Blagojevich battled social conservatives for years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The name of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested Dec. 9 for, among other things, attempting to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, is not new to social conservatives who have battled him in the state for years.

Among the issues Blagojevich has battled pro-family advocates on:

— The “morning after” pill. Illinois began the state pressure on Wal-Mart to change its policy on the “morning-after” pill, an “emergency contraceptive” with abortion-causing properties, in 2005 when Blagojevich (a Democrat who was first elected governor in 2002) ordered the sale of the drug in all pharmacies in the state. Wal-Mart had been the largest chain store that did not sell the controversial drug nationwide before its policy reversal in Illinois. The drug is known by the brands Plan B and Preven.

On the website contraceptives.illinois.gov, linked from the state’s official homepage, a letter from Blagojevich to Illinois women notes that his administration enacted legislation that requires all private insurance companies in Illinois to cover FDA-approved birth control devices and services.

“If insurance companies can cover Viagra for men, it’s only fair that they be required to cover birth control for women,” the governor wrote. “Saving money on the cost of birth control is important, but only if you can get the prescription filled in the first place.”

The morning after pill works to restrict ovulation in a woman, but it also can act after conception, thereby causing an abortion.

— Partial-birth abortion. Blagojevich’s congressional voting record earned the lowest possible rating from National Right to Life during his three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he has been a staunch defender of partial-birth abortion.

— Embryonic stem cell research. Last year Blagojevich signed a bill to legalize formally and to fund embryonic stem cell research. Blagojevich previously had given $15 million in grants for such research without legislative approval. The measure bans cloning to produce a live birth but permits cloning to create embryos, who are destroyed when stem cells are extracted from them in a process known as therapeutic cloning. Illinois adopted the law despite the fact that embryonic stem cells have yet to provide any therapies for human beings and have been plagued by tumors in lab animals. Meanwhile, non-embryonic (or adult) stem cells have produced treatments for at least 73 human ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research.

— Homosexuality. In 2005 Blagojevich signed a bill adding “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes in Illinois law, placing it alongside classes such as race.

— Gambling. Blagojevich has sought the privatization of the Illinois lottery in order to raise billions of dollars for a state budget that is badly unbalanced. Pro-family advocates have opposed privatization because it eliminates state control of gambling, which goes against the original justification for lotteries — that state oversight would eliminate the possibility of corruption. Also, privatization leads to expanded gambling.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach with reporting by Tom Strode.

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