Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Pharmacist allegedly denies woman miscarriage medication over religious beliefs

Pharmacist allegedly denies woman miscarriage medication over religious beliefs

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a complaint against Meijer after a pharmacy worker reportedly refused to fill an Ionia woman's prescription to help her following a miscarriage.

In July, Rachel Peterson's doctor called in a prescription to the Petoskey Meijer pharmacy for medication that would treat her recent miscarriage, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU is asking a drug store company to take action to protect its customers' rights after a MI pharmacist allegedly denied a woman a miscarriage drug, citing his Catholicism.

"When you're at one of the lowest moments of your life, you don't expect this sort of demeaning treatment", said Peterson.

"We recognize the right of a pharmacist to abstain from filling a prescription based on his or her religious beliefs, but the pharmacist is required to have another Meijer pharmacist fill the prescription or, if no other pharmacist is available at that time, to transfer the script to another pharmacy convenient to the customer", she said.

Peterson was on vacation at the time and had to drive three-and-a-half hours to the Meijer near her home in Ionia to get it.

That woman, Rachel Peterson, in conjunction with the ACLU of MI, is now demanding that the company, Meijer, take steps to prevent that from happening again.

"So Rachel was denied this based on the personal beliefs of this pharmacist and then also because she's a woman".

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She explained to the pharmacist that she needed the drug, misoprostol, because she'd had a miscarriage (the fetus' heart had stopped beating). Misoprostol, also known by the brand name Cytotec, is often used to treat miscarriages. As it stands, pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions because of moral objection occupies a legal gray area, per NBC.

Kovach said it's hard to pinpoint precisely how pervasive an issue like Peterson's is in MI.

"I just want people to know that I'm doing this to make sure that people do not have to encounter the same situation that I did", Peterson said. "Our client clearly was a victim of sex discrimination".

Meijer is a privately owned company with almost 250 supermarkets and 200 gas stations in the Midwest.

In its letter of complaint to Meijer, the ACLU wrote, "Not only must Mr. Kalkman be disciplined for treating Ms. Peterson cruelly, but Meijer must implement a policy to ensure that all customers in the future receive their medication without undue delay, regardless of the personal beliefs of its pharmacists". However, our procedure requires the prescription to then be filled by another pharmacist in the store.

The pharmacist, whom Meijer declined to identify, has not been employed by the grocery chain since July, it said. Eight states require pharmacies to provide medications to patients.

In 29 other states, there are no laws addressing the issue. In Alabama, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas, pharmacists are allowed to refuse but may not obstruct access to the medication.

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