Pharmacist denies woman miscarriage drug on moral grounds

Faith Castro
June 28, 2018

After she was denied service at the pharmacy, she says she received an email notification saying her prescription was ready for pick-up at another location across town.

An Arizona woman said she was denied miscarriage medication by a pharmacist at a Walgreens in Peoria who said it went against his personal beliefs.

Nicole Arteaga was two months pregnant when she says her doctor told her the baby's development had stopped, and she would ultimately miscarry.

The controversy began when 35-year-old Nicole Mone Arteaga went public with her story in a Facebook post, reports CNN.

"I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old, and five customers behind only to be denied because of his ethic (al) beliefs", she wrote in a Facebook post that as of Saturday evening had already been shared almost 19,000 times and garnered almost 8,000 comments.

Arteaga has also filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy. "I don't see why she doesn't respect the pharmacist's right to not do this", he said.

"Obviously it's a sensitive matter, and we have to approach it delicately", he said. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona is one of six states that allow pharmacists to refuse to provide emergency contraception drugs, along with Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota.

Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution, said that so-called conscience clauses have been established law for years.

"My son, seeing me get so upset and he's trying to figure out why are you crying, once I couldn't hold it in anymore", she said. "That's what's up in the air". That could include a type of warning letter, civil penalties, a voluntary surrender of license or continued education, Gandhi said.

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It is not only terrible that the Walgreens policy allows the humiliation of women like Arteaga, but the pharmacist's position is extremely troubling to me-as a professional, shouldn't his concern have been with her wellbeing? Most people were deeply outraged by what Arteaga went through. Walgreens pushed out multiple repeated responses.

"After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled", says a company statement.

But it said: "It's important to note in that situation, the pharmacist also is required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner".

Arteaga says that was not done.

Arteaga made a decision to get the prescription.

Mone said that this is not what happened in her case citing that the pharmacist could have referred her to the lady standing next to him but he did not do this.

Tayler Tucker, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said the organisation has been advocating for change in the refusal policy since it was passed in 2009. Women already deal with incredible stigma and shame when it comes to miscarriages, which is why we rarely talk about them in our culture. Her doctor earlier told her she will have miscarriage. She was told her 10-week pregnancy would end in a miscarriage, and was given the option of choosing between a surgical or medical abortion.

"I get it we all have our beliefs", Arteaga wrote in her Facebook post, which also included a photo of the pharmacist's business card. "This is not how I wanted my pregnancy to go, but this is my situation".

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