Issues

Pharmacist wins in court after refusing to dispense morning-after pill

pharmacist

On August 5, 2022, a jury in Aitkin, Minnesota, ruled in favor of a veteran pharmacist accused of violating a woman’s rights by refusing to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill

According to NBC, after a condom broke, Andrea Anderson sought the emergency contraceptive, Ella, in 2019 at Thrifty White — the only pharmacy in the small town of McGregor where she lived. Anderson, a mother of five, then filed a civil lawsuit under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. She sued pharmacist George Badeaux, claiming that he violated her rights under Minnesota law.

Badeaux refused to give Anderson the medication because of its potential to function as an abortifacient. “I couldn’t fill this prescription because one of the possible mechanisms of action of the medication is that it can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus,” Badeaux told “Fox & Friends First” host Todd Piro. “In my mind, that would be ending a new human life.”

The complaint noted, “Badeaux informed her that there would be another pharmacist working the next day, who might be willing to fill the medication but that he could not guarantee that they would help.” 

READ: Is emergency contraception different from the abortion pill? 

Anderson was also warned against trying to get the prescription filled at a Shopko pharmacy in a nearby town and an Aitkin pharmacist at a CVS also denied filling the prescription. She was able to get the prescription filled at a Walgreens in Barinerd.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy allows pharmacists to deny prescriptions for emergency contraceptives if they conflict with a pharmacist’s personal beliefs.

The jury ruled that Badeaux did not violate a woman’s civil rights under state law but decided Anderson should be entitled to $25,000 in damages due to emotional harm. Badeaux’s attorney, Charles Shreffler, does not believe Anderson will receive any money since it was found that she was not discriminated against. He said, “In order for [Badeaux] to be liable for damages, he has to be found liable. The jury has to first find that he discriminated against Ms. Anderson on the basis of her sex, and the jury specifically found that he did not discriminate against her.”

On behalf of Badeaux, Shreffler also said, “We are incredibly happy with the jury’s decision. Medical professionals should be free to practice their professions in line with their beliefs.”

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