A pharmacist in Michigan cited religious objections when refusing to provide a prescription to a woman that had suffered a miscarriage. The woman, 35-year-old Rachel Peterson, had recently suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage of twins and the drug Misoprostol was prescribed by her doctor in the aftermath. But the pharmacist decided he didn’t believe Peterson’s story and refused to fill the prescription. He also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy. In effect, he prevented her from getting the medicine her own doctor said she needed.
Why would a pharmacist refuse to provide a script to a woman facing this devastating situation? Well, it’s not the only thing that Misoprostol does.
Misoprostol, you see, has other uses.
It is used to treat stomach ulcers, for example. Nothing harmful there, only good, right? It can be used to treat postpartum hemorrhage as well. And it can be used as Peterson’s doctor intended, to “aid in the completion of a miscarriage.”
But what almost certainly got this pharmacist upset is that Misoprostol, when combined with another drug, like mifepristone or methotrexate, can induce an abortion. This pharmacist apparently decided that a chemical abortion was Peterson’s real goal here. But it wasn’t.
Why does a pharmacist get to decide when or why a patient needs a prescription?
Abortion drugs have long been controversial, of course. But this wasn’t a drug being used to induce one. It was being used to help keep a woman healthy after a miscarriage. It was the pharmacist that decided he knew what was best for Peterson, even though he clearly had no understanding of her situation.
A spokesman for Meijer stated, “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. 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.”
Except, this pharmacist refused to do that as well! He was determined to (incorrectly) restrict this patient’s access no matter what.
And the ACLU has gotten involved on behalf of Peterson, sending a letter to Meijer accusing the pharmacist of discrimination. Whether this leads to a lawsuit seems to be undecided.
Is it fair that this woman was refused her medication?