Woman says Meijer pharmacist refused to give her miscarriage drug

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IONIA, Mich. -- A Meijer pharmacist is under scrutiny after an Ionia woman says he denied her a prescription she needed after suffering a miscarriage.

Rachel Peterson says the pharmacist denied filling her prescription for religious reasons, saying it was used for abortions. She said the pharmacist didn't believe her when she said what the medication was for, and said she was lying and that it was going to be for an abortion.

It was an emotional time for Peterson and her husband Rob when they found out they were pregnant in June. Their plans to grow their family came to a halt a few weeks later.

"They did an ultrasound and they confirmed that there was no heartbeat and that the fetus was no longer viable and that I had lost the baby," Peterson said.

After suffering a miscarriage, she would either have to let things clear out naturally, take a medication called Misoprostol or have surgery.  They tried the first option, and decided to get away to Petoskey for a long weekend to mourn the loss of their baby.

"We decided to go up North and just kind of get away and relax and just try and grieve and focus on healing," she said.

When things didn't happen naturally, her doctor called in a prescription to the Meijer pharmacy in Petoskey.  The pharmacist refused to fill it.

"He said that he refused to fill the prescription because he couldn’t in good conscience because he was a good Catholic male and that this medication was used for abortions," Peterson said. "And I decided to tell him that the fetus was no longer viable and that I needed the medication for, to make sure that things progressed naturally, and he said that he didn’t believe me."

When she asked him to have someone else fill the prescription she says he said 'no' and also refused to let her speak to a manager or send it to another Meijer pharmacy.

She and her husband drove three hours to the Meijer pharmacy in Ionia to eventually have it filled.

"He assumed that because I’m a woman and that the prescription, he assumed that I was using it for an abortion even though we wanted to have a baby and a family, but he just wouldn’t give it to me" she said.

Peterson reached out to the ACLU for help, who then filed a formal complaint against Meijer.

The company released a statement Wednesday, saying they can't discuss the specific matter due to federal and state privacy laws, but that their pharmacists may refuse to fill a prescription based on religious beliefs. However, that prescription must be filled by another pharmacist in the store or transferred to another pharmacy.

Peterson says she wants more training for this pharmacist and for policies to be clearer so no one else has to experience what she did.

"I just want fairness," she said.

Rachel says her mother also called the pharmacist who denied her prescription and claims he disclosed private medical information to her, which she says is a HIPAA violation. It's unclear if the pharmacist is still employed with Meijer or if he was reprimanded in any way.

Here is Meijer's full statement:

“Meijer has received a letter from the ACLU regarding a complaint that one of our pharmacists inappropriately handled a refusal to fill a prescription.  We have thoroughly investigated these allegations and while we cannot discuss this specific matter due to federal and state privacy laws that protect health information, we want all of our pharmacy customers to know of our practices regarding a pharmacists’ ability to refuse to fill a prescription.  Our practice is based upon our overwhelming concern for patient safety and care, balanced with the need to accommodate the religious beliefs of our employees.  A pharmacist may refuse to fill a prescription based upon religious beliefs.  However, our procedure requires the prescription to then be filled by another pharmacist in the store.  If no other pharmacist is available, the pharmacist must consult with the patient to arrange for the transfer of the prescription to another pharmacy that is convenient to them.  This is consistent with the American Pharmacy Association and the Michigan Pharmacy Association Guidelines.  A pharmacist who fails to follow this procedure, is in violation of our process.”


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    • steve

      At least they left your criticism alone. They trashed my comment again so it can’t be seen. I don’t know what the censors’ objectives are, but open mindedness to opinions surely is not one of them.

    • Kevin Rahe

      If the woman really was going to use the drug for an abortion, then the pharmacist was justified in refusing to cooperate in her sin. The question is whether the pharmacist had a good reason to suspect that that was her intent in using the drug.

  • Shabadoo Simmons

    Get rid of this garbage. Nobody wants your sermon- they just want their prescription that they decided on between them and their doctor.

  • Kevin Rahe

    Did the pharmacist have a good reason to disbelieve the customer? If it’s common for women to lie about the reason they’re taking this drug, then some fault certainly lies with them for creating the pharmacist’s doubt. If that rarely happens, though, then unless the pharmacist had some outside knowledge about the situation, I don’t see why he wouldn’t believe the reason the woman gave for taking the drug.

    • Shabadoo Simmons

      He failed to follow the policy of his employer- he should have had someone else fill the prescription or transferred the prescription. Perhaps he should focus on the child rapists in his own “church” before lecturing a family during their grief.

      • Kevin Rahe

        The vast majority of the abuse committed by Catholic clergy were cases of priests taking advantage of teenage boys rather than being child rapists, but that is way beside the point here.

        Again, unless and until we hear the pharmacists reasons for thinking that the woman was lying, we can’t really judge what he did.

        • Shabadoo Simmons

          his reasons are beside the point- he failed to follow employer policy. Even if she stated they were for an intentional miscarriage- he should have handed the prescription off to another pharmacist.
          And the kid touching priests of the catholic “church” are not beside th epoint- he should worry about his own house before preaching to a grieving family.

          • Kevin Rahe

            If he had a good reason that the pills would be used for an intentional abortion, he was right to avoid any involvement in the process at all, including referring her to another pharmacist or pharmacy, which morally would differ little from filling the prescription himself.

    • Parrot Mom

      Kevin Rahe, what the pharmacist did was to judge her with his beliefs, and then try to force them on her.When he took the job, he must have been aware that this might happen. Fine, you don’t want to fill the prescription, then get someone else behind the counter that will. He not only sat in judgment on this woman, he broke his employer’s policy when he refused to either get another pharmacist to fill it, or transfer the prescription to a pharmacy who did not have such ridiculous religious scruples. You can worship anyone you want, but when you try to impose your beliefs on me, you have crossed the line.

      • Kevin Rahe

        If the woman honestly believed that her baby had already died, then his mistake was not believing her. But even if she did want the pills in order to end her baby’s life, refusing to cooperate in the act would not be “forcing his beliefs on her,” for unless he tied her up until the baby was born, she would still be free to seek what she was looking for elsewhere.

        And referring her to another pharmacist would not absolve him of cooperation in the act, either. It would be like someone who asks to buy a gun from you to kill a family member. Do you think you would be less guilty if you sent them to someone else who you know would sell them a gun than you would be if you sold it to them yourself?

        And finally, if you think that refusing to help kill another human being is just “religious scruples,” you’re roaming rather far off the reservation, no?

  • Kim S

    A simple phone call to the prescribing physician, by the pharmacist, to verify the diagnosis would have taken care of the situation in two minutes.

  • Dave

    ??? A pharmacist won’t dispense a prescription because its against their personal belief……….that would be like a vegetarian working at McDonalds and not sell anyone burgers or chicken because they don’t eat meat.

    • Kevin Rahe

      So you think it’s unreasonable for a pharmacist to expect their efforts to comprise health care rather than the opposite of it?

  • Anna Burrows

    Why didn’t she have her Dr. call to verify what the medicine was suppose to be used for instead of causing a big scene…. Too many people are offended at so many things any more and religion is one of the main ones … Was Meijers the only place up there to fill that script ? Wasn’t there another place without causing such a big scene and a person to loose their job?? You got your fame and people feeling sorry for you because you lost your baby … But wake up and smell the roses that’s part of life … OTHER women have been through the same thing too. it’s not the end of the world as you are making out and blaming this person because he would not give you the pill … Too many women want that pill to have an abortion …..

  • Justin Case

    It has now been made known this happened in JULY!!!!! and now is just getting reported in OCTOBER. Seems a bit sketchy why would it be MONTHS later she is talking to the media?

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