- A woman from Michigan says that a pharmacist at a Meijer Pharmacy refused to prescribe her medication while she was having a miscarriage, claiming he was “a good Catholic male” and couldn’t for religious reasons.
- Rachel Peterson was prescribed a medication called misoprostol, which would complete her miscarriage – but the pharmacist refused to give her the medication or transfer it to another location.
- Now, Peterson is calling on Meijer to take action against the pharmacist and has enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.
- This isn’t the first time an incident like this has occurred.
A woman from Michigan says that a pharmacist refused to prescribe her medication while she was having a miscarriage for religious reasons, claiming that he is “a good Catholic male,” as the Detroit Free Press first reported.
In July, Rachel Peterson, 35, was on her way to a Meijer Pharmacy in Petoskey, Michigan, to pick up a drug called misoprostol, which she had been prescribed by a doctor to complete a miscarriage.
The drug is also used to prevent stomach ulcers and induce labour. When used in combination with other medications, it can induce abortions.
But Peterson says that a pharmacist called her to let her know that he wouldn’t fill the prescription on grounds of religious conflict.
“He said that he was a good Catholic male and that he couldn’t in good conscience give me this medication because it’s used for abortions, and he could not prescribe that,” Peterson told the Detroit Free Press.
She then explained her situation to him.
“When I divulged to him that the foetus was no longer viable, and that … I needed to progress the situation further, he said, ‘Well, that’s your word and I don’t believe you,’ and he refused to fill it,” Peterson said.
Peterson said that the pharmacist also refused to transfer her prescription to another pharmacy.
A Meijer spokesperson told INSIDER there’s a protocol in place for situations like this.
“A pharmacist may refuse to fill a prescription based upon religious beliefs. However, our procedure requires the prescription to then be filled by another pharmacist in the store,” they said. “If no other pharmacist is available, the pharmacist must consult with the patient to arrange for the transfer of the prescription to another pharmacy that is convenient to them. This is consistent with the American Pharmacy Association and the Michigan Pharmacy Association Guidelines.”
The spokesperson did say that the pharmacist identified by recent reports has not been employed by Meijer since July 2018.
“While we cannot comment on any pharmacy customer matter, we apologise for any customer experience that does not align with our core values,” the spokesperson said.
Now, with the help fo the American Civil Liberties Union, Peterson is calling on Meijer to take action against the pharmacist.
“All women should be able to go to a Meijer Pharmacy to obtain the medicine they need without fear of discrimination,” Merissa Kovach, Michigan Policy Strategist for the ACLU, said in a statement. “Our client clearly was a victim of sex discrimination. Had the customer been a man prescribed the same medication – that is also commonly used to treat ulcers – the pharmacist would have filled it.”
The ACLU is advocating for an investigation into the incident and asking that Meijer institutes a policy that works to remedy situations like this in the future.
“When you’re at one of the lowest moments of your life, you don’t expect this sort of demeaning treatment,” Peterson said in the ACLU’s statement. “A pharmacy should not be able to deny patients medication prescribed by their doctors based on the personal beliefs of a particular employee.”
Ultimately, Peterson left her family vacation in Petoskey and travelled three hours to a different Meijer Pharmacy to get the prescription filled.
But the ACLU and Peterson think that this shouldn’t be the norm, despite several instances of pharmacists refusing to prescribe medication on personal grounds. This summer, a woman in Arizona said a pharmacist refused to fill her prescription for the same medication to end a pregnancy that wasn’t viable. In April, a transgender woman also from Arizona said a CVS pharmacist refused to fill her hormone prescription, without any explanation.
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