Health

Report: Pharmacist Refused Birth Control Prescription

| by Michael Allen

A pharmacist at a Walgreens in Albuquerque, New Mexico, reportedly refused to fill a prescription related to birth control because of "personal beliefs."

According to a June 2 press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, a mom went into the pharmacy on August 9, 2016, to fill three medications for her teenage daughter.

The pharmacist on duty allegedly told the mom that she had to go to another pharmacy to pick up one of the medications, Misoprostol, which is used for cervical preparation prior to the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD).

The mom told the Albuquerque Journal in January that her daughter had problems with menstrual cycles and birth control medications, so a gynecologist recommended the IUD.

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The pharmacist reportedly told the mom that he had Misoprostol in stock, but was refusing to dispense it to her because of his "personal beliefs."

Misoprostol is also part of a two-pill regimen to induce a medical abortion, but can be used to treat stomach ulcers, as well.

The mom had to drive to another pharmacy during rush hour to get the Misoprostol, which had to be taken before her daughter's IUD appointment the next day.

The mother told the Albuquerque Journal that she returned to the first Walgreens, and had a confrontation with an assistant manager and the pharmacist:

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I told him he was discriminating against me, that he should be ashamed for judging us, that he didn’t know my daughter’s medical history or her complications or conversation with her doctor. That he didn’t know what the medication was for. And he just looks at me and says, "Oh, I have a pretty good idea."

According to the news release, the ACLU of New Mexico and the Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC) filed two complaints against Walgreens with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau alleging that the pharmacist's sexual discrimination violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

A Walgreens representative told Yahoo! Beauty that store pharmacists and other employees may "step away from a transaction to which they may have a moral objection, and requires the pharmacist or other employee to refer the transaction to another employee or manager on duty to complete the customer’s request."

ACLU of New Mexico lawyer Erin Armstrong said in the press release that women should not be discriminated against by any pharmacy:

Women should be able to walk into any pharmacy that serves the public with full confidence that they will receive the care and medicine they need without being disrespected and discriminated against.

Birth control and other medications related to reproductive health are a vital part of healthcare for women. Walgreens can work to accommodate the personal beliefs of its employees, but they must not do so by permitting discriminatory denials of care that burden their patients and customers.

Sources: ACLU of New Mexico, Yahoo! Beauty, Albuquerque Journal / Photo credit: Otisfrog/Wikimedia Commons

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