Pharmacist Refused To Give A Woman Her Prescription To End A Pregnancy

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Image via NBC News

Pharmacist refused to fill woman’s prescription for miscarriage medicine

A Michigan pharmacist refused to fill a woman’s prescription for the medicine she needed to treat her miscarriage. Having a miscarriage is one of the hardest things a woman can go through, but when a medical professional refuses to do their job the experience can be even more traumatic.

When Rachel Peterson suffered a miscarriage in July, her doctor prescribed misoprostol, which is common in cases of miscarriage. She was out of her hometown of Ionia, Michigan at the time but her doctor called in her prescription to a Meijer pharmacy in Petoskey, Michigan. Meijer owns 230 grocery stores in six Midwestern states, CNN reports. Since this is super common – I’ve had my birth control prescription called into various Costco pharmacies when I travel – she was told her prescription would be filled.

But then this typically normal, everyday process changed. “The pharmacist called me and said that he could not in good conscience fill this medication because he was a good Catholic male and could not support an abortion,” Peterson tells CNN. She explained to the pharmacist that she had experienced a miscarriage, but he decided she was lying. “He didn’t believe me and said that he would still not give me the medication.”

Why would someone lie about having a miscarriage? Short answer: they wouldn’t. The pharmacist may have assumed that Peterson was going to combine her prescription of misoprostol with mifepristone, which if done can terminate an early pregnancy. But if that were the case, Peterson would have needed a prescription for that as medicine well.

Meijer’s store policy allows for pharmacists to refuse to fill specific orders based on their religious beliefs, but what religion is against miscarriages?

Meijer’s store policy also says that if a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription than another pharmacist has to fill it. But when Peterson asked for this happen the pharmacist refused. He also refused to transfer her prescription and didn’t let her speak to another pharmacist at the store or a Meijer manager. All of which is against the store’s best practices and the rules outlined by the American Pharmacy Association and the Michigan Pharmacy Association.

“It was very difficult to deal with when you’re in a really bad state of mind already,” she explains. “And then to have someone who doesn’t believe you and not to have any empathy … that really is difficult to comprehend.”

Thankfully, Peterson was able to get her prescription filled in time back at her local pharmacy. “It could have severely affected me mentally and physically not to get the medication.” The experience did motivate her to help others, though. “If this is happening to me is it happening more to other people,” Peterson tells CNN.

She’s currently working with the American Civil Liberties Union to make sure Meijer updates their policy, so they don’t put another woman in danger. If that doesn’t work, Peterson said she’s considering filing a lawsuit against Meijer.

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