Walgreens Pharmacist Denies a Woman Medication to End Her Unviable Pregnancy

Jun 25, 2018

By Louis Lucero II

Nine weeks into her pregnancy, Nicole Arteaga got distressing news from her doctor: There was no fetal heartbeat and the pregnancy would end in a miscarriage.

Rather than have a surgical procedure to remove the fetal tissue from her uterus, Ms. Arteaga, a first-grade teacher who lives in Peoria, Ariz., decided on Wednesday to take misoprostol, a medication that can be used to end a failed pregnancy.

The medication is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use by a licensed provider to end a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks, for what is known as a medical abortion.

She dropped off a prescription for the medication and by that night, got an email saying it was ready to be picked up.

But when she tried to get the medication from her local Walgreens on Thursday, the pharmacist asked whether she was pregnant. When she said she was, he refused to give her the misoprostol, citing “his ethical beliefs,” she recalled in a detailed account on Facebook.

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9 comments on “Walgreens Pharmacist Denies a Woman Medication to End Her Unviable Pregnancy

  • @OP – She dropped off a prescription for the medication and by that night, got an email saying it was ready to be picked up.

    It is an absolute disgrace that having accepted the prescription, the service is later refused on the basis of the views of some ignoramus shop assistant, who believes he knows medical ethics better than the doctors!

    But when she tried to get the medication from her local Walgreens on Thursday,
    the pharmacist asked whether she was pregnant. When she said she was, he refused to give her the misoprostol, citing “his ethical beliefs,”

    Clearly, she needs to contact the doctor who wrote the prescription, so other patients can be warned about pharmacists who refuse the service they should be providing – perhaps with doctors preparing a list of pharmacists who DO supply patients with their prescription medications.



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  • eejit

    Changing her chemist is way too passive a response. Think of the power trip the guy was on when he listened to her sad story and then gave her a punishment with judgement made clear for all bystanders to observe. These brainwashed control freaks believe it’s their duty to God to force others onto the straight and narrow path that only exists in their heads.

    These stories are often presented as a woman who was in a difficult circumstance who had no option but to seek abortion due to medical emergency or rape or other dire situation but the fact of the matter is that women in the US have the RIGHT to seek abortion for no reason at all! That’s right; NO reason at all. Abortion on demand is our right within the time limits that have been decided in the law.

    The right to lifers don’t give an inch on this matter and invest much time and money in harassment of women who are seeking abortion as is their right in this country. That’s why we can’t just put our heads down and walk out of pharmacies and clinics like meek mice and accept their shitty holier than thou punishments. FUCK THEM!

    Alan

    That wasn’t an ignoramus shop keeper who refused service, it was a pharmacist which in this country is, I think, a five year program after high school. A pharmacist is a medical professional who is expected to be knowledgable about every aspect of that specialty. If it was just a shopkeeper or clerk then a strong reprimand would do fine but why would someone on that level be dealing with this issue anyways?

    The problem is that a pharmacist is top dog at the prescription section of a pharmacy and there may be no one around who could counter his/her actions. That’s why there is the suggestion of boycott and pressure on Walgreens to take action against him. The doc has nothing to do with this. He/she did the right thing by giving her the prescription and expects it to be filled. He/she should call Walgreens and complain to the management about that deluded pharmacist who has the audacity to dismiss the doc’s best advice but it’s not his problem to keep track of which pharmacist might be amenable to filling his prescriptions for patients if they feel that doc’s advice passes their own personal morality test.

    From the article linked above:

    Six states — including Arizona — explicitly permit pharmacies or pharmacists to refuse to provide medication because of religious or moral objections, according to the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit and advocacy group.

    It’s not just a pharmacist – Walgreens problem, it’s a problem on the state level and the national level too.



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  • LaurieB #3
    Jun 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    That wasn’t an ignoramus shop keeper who refused service, it was a pharmacist which in this country is, I think, a five year program after high school.

    I’m not sure how commerce works in the US, but in the UK customers are served by counter staff who are supervised by a pharmacist. (Just as nursing staff are supervised by doctors.)
    Prescriptions made up and packed ready for delivery, can be passed to the customer by any counter staff.
    Generally businesses do not use expensively trained staff for simple tasks which can be carried out by assistants, – although pharmacists may personally discuss dangerous medications with customers, or counter staff may refer questions back to the pharmacist.

    A pharmacist is a medical professional who is expected to be knowledgable about every aspect of that speciality.
    If it was just a shopkeeper or clerk then a strong reprimand would do fine
    but why would someone on that level be dealing with this issue anyways?

    Things have probably moved on quite a lot over the years, but one of my grandfathers was a pharmacist. – (and a physiotherapist and chiropodist). – with my mother working in his family business as a teenager.

    I appreciate the points you make about “a state problem”!

    I believe as far as (real) ethics goes, this is the position:-

    https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/News-and-Publications/Publications/Professional-Conduct-Ethics/Guide-to-Professional-Conduct-and-Behaviour-for-Registered-Medical-Practitioners-pdf.pdf

    10.1 As a doctor, you must not allow your personal moral standards to influence your treatment of patients.

    10.2 If you have a conscientious objection to a course of action, you should explain this to the patient and make the names of other doctors available to them.

    10.3 Conscientious objection does not absolve you from responsibility to a patient in emergency circumstances.

    12.1 If you do not have the professional or language skills, or the necessary facilities to provide appropriate medical care to a patient, you must refer the patient to a colleague who can meet those requirements.

    @OP – he refused to give her the misoprostol, citing “his ethical beliefs,”

    As far as medical ethics is concerned, he is an ignoramus or bigot, who does not have any “ethical beliefs” – although he may have ignorant priest-indoctrinated know-it-all self delusions about this!



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  • LaurieB #3
    Jun 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    The problem is that a pharmacist is top dog at the prescription section of a pharmacy and there may be no one around who could counter his/her actions.
    That’s why there is the suggestion of boycott and pressure on Walgreens to take action against him. The doc has nothing to do with this.

    In collecting any medication for my wife or myself, in the modern age, prescriptions are sent electronically, directly to a named pharmacy, where they are made up into sealed packages with the patient’s name and address and the list of medications printed on the label. They may then be taken from the filed rows of packets and handed over to the patient (or responsible family member), by counter staff, who check the identities of recipients and who are supervised by the pharmacist.

    The doc has nothing to do with this.

    In a system such as this, a doctor who was made aware of a problem with certain pharmacists in relation to certain medications, could warn patients, and in consultation with the patient, take appropriate action to direct the prescription (or a patient with a paper prescription), for collection of the medication elsewhere – as could be expected under medical ethics!



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  • I see your argument Laurie. I suppose at the back of my mind there was some idea of a boycott. If traders refuse to sell you legal products, then social media being what it is – it’s easy to spread the news. The Christians do it all the time and businesses are afraid of their power; it’s about time that ordinary, non ideological folk, started to use their market power.



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  • Come to think of it, if health workers really don’t want to have anything to do with abortion, then they should be obliged to have a prominent notice in their premises, and in their advertisements to that effect.

    At the moment in Ireland as a consequence of the referendum, the parliament is developing a regulatory bill, which in general is pretty good. However, with things being what they are here religious-wise, they are allowing doctors and nurses to opt out of abortions or giving abortion advice, but they will have to refer patients on to someone who will., which obviously some of them do not want to do. I think that I’ll get on to my local member and suggest to her that a public notice should be included in the bill. Let the customers choose what they want from their doctors and chemists.



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  • @OP – But when she tried to get the medication from her local Walgreens on Thursday, the pharmacist asked whether she was pregnant.
    When she said she was, he refused to give her the misoprostol, citing “his ethical beliefs,”

    I mentioned modern technology @#5, but there is now a development which could bypass Walgreens altogether!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44646767

    Amazon has said it is buying online pharmacy PillPack, sending shares in rival healthcare firms tumbling over fears of competition from the online retail giant.

    Shares in pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance plunged more than 8% in early trade.

    The company’s services are aimed at people who take multiple medications, delivering drugs in pre-sorted dose packages.
    The firm also helps to co-ordinate refills and renewals.

    TJ Parker, PillPack’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “Together with Amazon, we are eager to continue working with partners across the healthcare industry to help people throughout the US who can benefit from a better pharmacy experience.”

    “In our view, this is only the first play in what will be an increasingly aggressive strategy by Amazon to develop a much more significant presence in the pharmacy market,” he said.

    “This is incredibly bad news for traditional players, like Walgreens and CVS, who stand to lose the most from Amazon’s determination to grow its share.”



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  • I think this would confirm that it would be sound advice to consumers, to move their prescription business to PillPack and Amazon!

    @washingtonpost.com

    The company said the pharmacist did not violate policy,
    but the business plans to provide training to better handle similar…



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