Walgreens Pharmacist REFUSES Prescription To Pregnant Woman For “Ethical” Reasons

Should pharmacists be required to fill ALL prescriptions?


There’s online outrage against Walgreens after an Arizona pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a medical abortion due to his own ethical concerns.

When she was nine weeks pregnant, Nicole Arteaga got some devastating news. The fetus she was carrying had no heartbeat, and she was going to have another miscarriage.

She was given the choice to either undergo a surgical procedure to remove the fetus from her uterus, or to take prescription Misoprostol to abort the failed pregnancy. She dropped off the prescription at Walgreens, and received an email that night that it was ready.

However when she went to pick up the prescription, the pharmacist refused to give it to her. Devastated, she left Walgreen’s and posted to Facebook.

She wrote: “I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7 year old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs. I get it we all have our beliefs. But what he failed to understand is this isn’t the situation I had hoped for, this isn’t something I wanted.”

Arteaga’s Facebook post went viral and has been shared over 40,000 times. In an interview with CNN, Arteaga said the pharmacist told her to either come back the following day or that he could try to fill the prescription at another Walgreens.

She later updated her Facebook post that the pharmacist had had her prescription transferred to another Walgreens, where she was able to pick it up without issue.

This, apparently, is consistent with Walgreens’ official policy.

Walgreens tweeted:

So, while the pharmacist didn’t break any Walgreens policies, the emotional trauma inflicted on Arteaga was significant, and many online agreed and expressed their outrage.


Here’s the problem with that, though. In Arizona, where this incident happened, what the pharmacist did was perfectly legal. Five other states are like Arizona in allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions due to religious beliefs and aren’t required to refer the patient to a pharmacy that will. In seven states, including Texas and New York, pharmacists don’t have to fill a prescription but they must refer you to someone who will.

These states say you have a right to “step away” but not to “step between” or obstruct a patient from acquiring their medicine. Then there are eight states, including California and Illinois, where pharmacists must provide prescribed medication, regardless of one’s ethical or religious beliefs.

The idea there is, basically, “It’s your job, get over it!”

And then there’s every other state which has no law at all – and a private company is basically able to set its own rules.

This debate has been going on in the U.S. for a long time. In 2012, an Oklahoma doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a rape victim. In Georgia in 2015, a woman was prescribed Misoprostal because of an impending miscarriage, and the Walmart pharmacist wouldn’t fill it.

Now, there is no federal law on the books on this issue. That’s because in 2016, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case from a Washington state pharmacy that claimed it violated its religious freedom to be required to carry emergency contraception.

But there’s evidence that the current Supreme Court would be more amenable to hearing this case.

Just on Tuesday, they ruled 5-4 in favor of the right of anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy” centers to not disclose that they are not medical professionals, and ruled that states can’t force such locations to provide information about legal abortions.

The ruling was condemned by women’s health groups, including the National Women’s Law Center, which called it “devastating,” and said it “will make access to full reproductive health care more difficult.”

As far as Arteaga’s story goes, she’s filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, and she hopes the law can be changed to better provide for people in her situation.

What do you guys think? Should there be a federal law one way or the other on this issue? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.