Jury finds pharmacist did not discriminate in refusing to fill emergency contraceptive prescription

On behalf of Andrea Anderson, Gender Justice filed a lawsuit in 2019 against McGregor Pharmacy (formerly Thrifty White), for refusing to provide emergency contraceptives to her. Anderson’s healthcare provider prescribed Ella because a condom broke during sexual intercource but when she called the pharmacy to check on the status on her prescription, the pharmacist said he would not fill it because of ‘personal reasons.’

***Before any Fundie Freaks start pretending they know how things work, emergency contraceptives are used to prevent a pregnancy, not cause an abortion.

According to the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, they allow pharmacists to decline filling a prescription for emergency contraceptives if it conflicts with their beliefs. However, they must make other arrangements for the patient to get their medication. The pharmacist did recommend Ms. Anderson call a colleague of his but, that pharmacy was 100 miles from her rural McGregor, Minnesota home and a snow storm was approaching.

On Friday, a jury found that the pharmacy did not did not discriminate against Ms. Anderson by refusing to fill her prescription for emergency contraceptive. But, they did award her $25,000 for emotional harm caused by the experience, although the pharmacist will not have to pay her that money unless the no-discrimination finding is changed in future motions or on appeal.

Leaders with the group Gender Justice, which represented Anderson in this case, said they plan to appeal.

“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits sex discrimination and that includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” said Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman. “The jury was not deciding what the law is, they were deciding the facts of what happened here in this particular case. We will appeal this decision and won’t stop fighting until Minnesotans can get the health care they need without the interference of providers putting their own personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”

“I can’t help but wonder about the other women who may be turned away,” said Anderson. “What if they accept the pharmacist’s decision and don’t realize that this behavior is wrong? What if they have no other choice? Not everyone has the means or ability to drive hundreds of miles to get a prescription filled. I can only hope that by coming forward and pursuing justice that others don’t have to jump through the ridiculous hurdles I did.”

Gender Justice will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure Minnesota patients can safely access the health care they need.

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