An Arizona mom was “humiliated” by a Walgreens pharmacist who refused to fill her prescription for an abortion drug because it went against his “ethical beliefs.”
Nicole Arteaga’s tragedy unfolded at her 10-week checkup when she learned her unborn child no longer had a heartbeat, AZ Central reported.
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.
“I didn’t want to need those pills,” Arteaga, 35, told AZ Central. “This is not how I wanted my pregnancy to go, but this is my situation.”
But when she went to her local Walgreens Friday with her 7-year-old son in tow, the pharmacist behind the counter denied her the drug.
“His mind was pretty much made up,” Arteaga said. “I tried to explain to him, I have to take this medication because it is an undeveloping fetus inside of me and he still refused, standing there silent and looking at me.”
The grieving mom left the store in tears and recounted her experience in a Facebook post Friday that’s since gone viral.
“I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7 year old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs,” Arteaga wrote. “I get it we all have our beliefs. But what he failed to understand is this isn’t the situation I had hoped for, this isn’t something I wanted.
“This is something I have zero control over.”
Arteaga said the pharmacist transferred her medication to a store across town. She picked it up there without problem Saturday – and then filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.
“I left Walgreens in tears, ashamed and feeling humiliated by a man who knows nothing of my struggles but feels it is his right to deny medication prescribed to me by my doctor,” she said on Facebook. “How is this okay? I can’t be the only one who has gone thru this.”
Walgreens said the pharmacist’s actions weren’t exactly wrong, according to WTSP 10 News.
“To respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection,” the company said in a statement.
“At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients’ needs are handled properly.”
The pharmacy giant said it reached out to Arteaga to apologize for “how the situation was handled.”
Under Arizona state law, pharmacies and pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill a prescription for religious or moral reasons and aren’t required to refer or transfer the prescription.