A Walgreen's Pharmacist Denied A Woman Miscarriage Medication Based On Moral Objection
In a post shared on Facebook on June 22, Nicole Arteaga shared that after being informed by her doctor that she would not be able to carry her baby to term, she was prescribed medication to help aid the miscarriage. She wrote that she went to a Walgreens in Peoria, Arizona to have the prescription filled; instead, the pharmacist denied her prescription for miscarriage medication, citing his moral beliefs. “I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old, and five customers behind only to be denied because of his ethic(al) beliefs,” Arteaga wrote her a Facebook post. She also chronicled her experience in a Yelp review. Arteaga's posts quickly went viral. (Bustle has reached out to Walgreens regarding this incident, and will update this post upon response.)
Walgreens told ABC News that they are investigating the incident. "After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled," Walgreens said in a statement to ABC News. "To respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients' needs are handled properly."
A representative for Walgreens told the Arizona Republic that someone from the company reached out to apologize to Arteaga; Arteaga disputes this claim, telling the Arizona Republic that the only person she spoke with after the incident was the manager of the Peoria Walgreens, who she said did not offer an apology. Arteaga later updated her Facebook post to say that the pharmacist "... ultimately had [the prescription] transferred to another location that had it in stock after I had left upset ... I picked up my prescription from that Walgreens with no problems."
The full text of Arteaga's post is below.
“This man has no idea what it's like to be women trying to have a baby only to learn your body just won't make it full term," Arteaga wrote in the review. "This is by no means a prescription that I want but one that I need. I left Walgreens in tears feeling humiliated, ashamed and punished by someone who knows nothing of my struggles but is willing keep a customer in agony over his beliefs."
Though many have responded with outrage on social media, under Arizona law, a pharmacist is under no obligation to fulfill prescription — in fact, it specifically states that they can refuse to do so for religious or moral reason. Company policies can, of course, vary.
The Arizona Republic also reports that Arteaga has encountered other women who received the same treatment. “I had a friend who reached out and told me not to be ashamed or embarrassed. That she too had left a pharmacy with the same feelings,” Arteaga said. “She helped me realize that my feelings were valid … that this might be something that is happening to others and it’s not OK.”
"I share this story because I wish no other women have to go [through] something like this at time when you are vulnerable and already suffering," wrote Ortega in her Facebook post. "I am in left in disbelief on how this can happen? How is this okay?"
She added that she has contacted the Walgreens corporate office, as well as the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, and thanked the people who have messaged and commented for their support.