A pregnant woman in Peoria, Arizona went for a 10-week ultrasound check up when she was told by her doctor that there was no fetal development and that her unborn baby no longer had a heartbeat.
The news itself was devastating for the 35-year-old Nicole Arteaga, however, what followed after it was even more damaging.
Arteaga’s doctor gave her two options. The first was to go for a D&C procedure at the hospital or take prescription medication that would help miscarry the fetus. She said the doctor handed her the prescription and told her to think about it and decide.
The woman said she thought about it and decided to take the pills. That is when she went to a Walgreens to pick up the prescribed drugs along with her seven-year-old son but she never got those medicines.
A pharmacist asked if she was pregnant and said he couldn’t give her the prescribed drugs because it would violate his personal beliefs.
Arteaga tried to explain the situation to the man and told him that this wasn’t something that she wanted to take but she had no choice left. She also asked if he could tell another employee to help but he flat out refused and instructed her to come back next evening.
The woman left the pharmacy completely devastated and later received an email that stated her medicines were sent to another pharmacy.
She eventually did get the prescription medication. However, the incident left her shaken.
“I share this story because I wish no other women have to go [through] something like this at time when you are vulnerable and already suffering.This is something I have zero control over,” she posted on Facebook. “He has no idea what [it’s] like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so. If you have gone [through] a miscarriage you know the pain and emotional roller [coaster] it can be.”
Walgreens pharmacist in Peoria denies mother miscarriage medicine because of moral objection: Peoria resident Nicole Arteaga went to a Walgreens to pick up her medication, but a pharmacist refused to fill the prescription over moral objections. https://t.co/r3hntveT7Qpic.twitter.com/m8uk5Wdsua— Dan Gonzales (@DanGonz20881843) June 24, 2018
In wake of widespread criticism, the company released a statement and said although employees are allowed to not prescribe drugs that are against their morals; they have to pass it on to other pharmacists present.
“After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients’ needs are handled properly,” the statement read.
In Arizona, it is legal for pharmacists to turn away people and not give them prescription drugs if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Other states that have passed similar laws are: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
However, health advocates argue not only does the law adds on emotional stress on a woman but in some cases, such as in remote areas where other pharmacies are not available, deprives them important medications.
“Pharmacists shouldn’t be in the business of deciding what medical care a patient gets — that decision should be between a person and her doctor,” said Kelli Garcia, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters, Elijah Nouvelage