A Walgreens pharmacist in Albuquerque, NM refused to sell a prescription used for birth control due to his religious beliefs.
According to Patheos, the pharmacist on duty, Jesse Garrett, refused to sell Misoprostol, a drug that prepares a woman’s body for the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD), to a mother who was picking up the prescription for her daughter.
When the woman pressed Garrett and his manager, both reportedly engaged in a “judgmental tone” stating that they had a “pretty good idea” what the purpose of the medication would be used for.
Mr. Garrett’s statements left M.S. with the sound belief that he was refusing to fill M.S.’s daughter’s prescription because he believed the prescription would be used for M.S.’s daughter’s reproductive healthcare.
The ACLU of New Mexico and the Southwest Women’s Law Center said the incident damages their confidence and trust with Walgreens and their pharmaceutical staff.
“Refusing to fill prescriptions that are directly tied to the attributes that make women different from men — i.e., the ability to become pregnant — constitutes sex discrimination,” the ACLU and SWLC wrote in a letter to the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau.
“It is inconceivable that the same denial of service would have occurred if Mr. Garrett had assumed that the medication would be used to treat stomach ulcers — the only indicated usage for men. In other words, had the patient been a man, rather than M.S.’s daughter, it is reasonable to assume that the prescription would have been filled at this location without delay.”
Walgreens later told the mother that they had “retrained” all the pharmacists in the area regarding what to do in similar situations. Current policy says if a pharmacist doesn’t want to fill a prescription for personal reasons, it can be transferred to another pharmacy.
That went against what Walgreens had said in a similar situation years ago, when they promised they would handle prescriptions for things like birth control “as efficiently as other prescriptions without imposing any burden on the customer.”
Featured image via Mike Mozart (Flickr)