A Walgreens pharmacist in New Mexico is under fire after his personal beliefs impacted a young girl's medical care.
A woman named only as M.S. filed two separate complaints with ACLU of New Mexico and the Southwest Women’s Law Center against the pharmacist, Jesse Garrett, on behalf of her daughter, who was refused a prescription for a hormone she needed prior to an IUD insertion.
M.S.'s daughter, who was twelve at the time, had a period that wasn't going away with other birth control methods, so her doctor suggested she get an IUD, according to a statement from the ACLU of New Mexico. The doctor prescribed three medications to help the IUD insertion go more smoothly— a pain reliever, an anti-anxiety medication, and Misoprotol —but Garrett said he was only able to fill two of the three and M.S. would need to go to another Walgreens for the third.
He allegedly refused to fill the Misoprotol, which is used to treat stomach ulcers, but is also often prescribed for reproductive health, such as inducing an abortion and to soften the cervix prior to an IUD insertion. When M.S. later asked Garrett why he couldn't fill the prescription, she was told that they did have the pill at the store but that particular pharmacist wouldn't fill the prescription due to "personal beliefs."
He told her that he "had a pretty good idea" why her daughter needed the medication, insinuating that she either needed to have an abortion or that she was getting an IUD for sexual activity.
But it wasn't the insinuation that had M.S. and her daughter fuming — it was the judgement and the fact that he felt justified to refuse young girls like her necessary medication based on discriminatory personal beliefs.
Although her daughter was able to access the medication she needed through another Walgreen's store, M.S. had to drive out of her way that night to get it, and she and her daughter have lost their trust in pharmacists, according to the ACLU statement.
"Previous to this incident, M.S. and her daughter felt safe asking pharmacists any and all questions related to their medications, but this has damaged their trust and confidence in Walgreens, pharmacists, and pharmacy staff," the statement reads.
A Walgreens representative told Yahoo that it's store policy to allow employees to "step away from a transaction to which they may have a moral objection, and requires the pharmacist or other employee to refer the transaction to another employee or manager on duty to complete the customer’s request."
Although we respect everyone's right to their beliefs, shaming girls and women for needing reproductive care — no matter the reason — only serves to put them at risk. And personal feelings should never interfere with someone's health care.
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