Pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception for a woman did not violate her rights, Minnesota jury rules

A Minnesota jury ruled Friday that a pharmacist did not discriminate against a woman when he refused to provide a prescription for emergency contraception.

Gender Justice, which represented plaintiff Andrea Anderson, said it believed the pharmacist’s actions “constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure that Minnesota patients can safely access the health care they need.”

In January 2019, Anderson’s doctor sent a prescription for Ella, or ulipristal – an emergency contraceptive, to the only pharmacy in her town, according to court documents.

Anderson’s initial form of birth control failed and she needed emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. The complaint said the pharmacist in Thrifty White told her he could not fill the prescription due to his “beliefs” and warned her not to try another pharmacy in the area.

She then drove to CVS which was 20 miles away, which also told her they couldn’t fill it up, according to the complaint. Anderson said she had to drive to a pharmacy more than 50 miles from her home in a snowstorm to have her prescription filled, the complaint said.

Gender Justice argued that refusing to fill Anderson’s prescription was illegal sexism and a violation of Minnesota Human Rights Act.

“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and this includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” said Jess Braverman, legal director of gender justice.

The group noted that there was a marked rise in pharmacies preventing patients from using emergency contraception after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Anderson said she was concerned about other women being refused when asking for emergency contraception.

“I can’t help but wonder what other women might be turned down,” she said. “What if they accepted the pharmacist’s decision and didn’t realize that this behavior was wrong? What if they had no other choice? Not everyone has the means or ability to drive hundreds of miles to get a prescription. I can only hope that by advancing and seeking justice that Others don’t have to get past her through the ridiculous obstacles she did.”


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