An Arizona woman says she felt ashamed and humiliated after a pharmacist, citing moral objections, refused to dispense a pregnancy-terminating drug that was prescribed for her after she learned she was about to miscarry. Her doctor told her that the fetus had stopped developing and had no heartbeat, so she was going to have another miscarriage.
Knowing a miscarriage was inevitable, she opted to take the medication Misoprostol - instead of undergoing a procedure known as a dilation and curettage - to help her body expel the dead fetus.
Walgreens said on Saturday that it had contacted Ms. Arteaga "and apologized for how the situation was handled", but suggested that the employee had not run afoul of company policy by refusing to fill the prescription.
She stood, humiliated, as the pharmacist said he would not give her the prescription because of his own ethical beliefs.
"I had a hard time getting to sleep with all these thoughts going through my mind about how a person could control or have control over something that I needed for my well being", she told Buzzfeed News.
It is not only very bad that the Walgreens policy allows the humiliation of women like Arteaga, but the pharmacist's position is extremely troubling to me-as a professional, shouldn't his concern have been with her wellbeing?
Arteaga said she would not usually share such a story but did not want other women to have the same experience at a time "when you are vulnerable and already suffering".
What happened in Arizona is a case study in what could go wrong, they said. How is this okay?
Kam Gandhi, executive director at the board, said that the agency hasn't talked to Arteaga or the pharmacist yet, but will aim to do a full investigation before the board's next meeting in August, Gandhi said.
She was denied a prescription at a Walgreens because of the pharmacist's beliefs.More news: Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games
Arteaga filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy.
Arizona is one of six U.S. states where it's legal for pharmacies or pharmacists to refuse to a fill a prescription for religious or moral reasons, according to the National Women's Law Center. The law specifically mentions abortion medication or emergency contraception, and says medical professionals like pharmacists must state their objection in writing.
The company told WTSP in a statement that in a situation where that happens the pharmacist is supposed to refer the person to another pharmacist on duty.
Walgreens did not immediately respond to phone calls from NPR, but in a statement posted on its website on Monday, the company announced that it was looking into the incident, and that its representatives had reached out to Arteaga.
Employees are required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager to ensure the needs of the patient are met "in a timely manner". "We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients" needs are handled properly'.
According to Walgreens and state law, the pharmacist was within his rights to do this.
"It's not OK to do that to someone", she told Arizona Central. (Do) your pharmacists have the right to refuse service based upon their religious beliefs?
It has been shared more than 28,000 times and commented on more than 12,000 times since Mone first posted it on June 22.
Eight states - California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington and Wisconsin - have laws requiring pharmacists to provide medication to patients.