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Arizona woman denied abortion medicine at Walgreens based on pharmacist’s ‘ethical beliefs’

'He has no idea what its like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so,' Nicole Arteaga says

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 25 June 2018 17:25 BST
Arizona woman denied miscarriage drug by pharmacist and refused referral: 'all I could feel was hopelessness'

An Arizona woman has hit out at chemist Walgreens after being denied medication she needed for an abortion thanks to a pharmacist’s “ethical beliefs”.

Nicole Arteaga found out nine weeks into her pregnancy that the fetal heartbeat had stopped, resulting in a miscarriage. Her doctor had recommended the medication Misoprostol to end the pregnancy, which can be used during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Having dropped off a prescription for the medication the previous night, she returned the next morning to pick it up and was told she could not.

Ms Arteaga wrote in a Facebook post about her interaction with the pharmacist at a Walgreens in Peoria, Arizona: “I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7 year old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs”.

Having experienced a previous miscarriage, Ms Arteaga’s doctor was closely monitoring her pregnancy and suggested a surgical procedure - called dilation and curettage - to remove the foetus.

Ms Arteaga opted for the prescription medication instead and wrote in the post: “I get it we all have our beliefs. But what he failed to understand is this isn’t the situation I had hoped for, this isn’t something I wanted”.

“This is something I have zero control over. 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 thru a miscarriage you know the pain and emotional roller[coaster] it can be,” she wrote.

She said she “left Walgreens in tears, ashamed and feeling humiliated by a man who knows nothing of my struggles”.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, she said "all I could feel was helplessness".

"The world felt like it was closing in... This was my body and I couldn't control it," she added. "This person was making this decision for me."

Ms Arteaga wrote in an update to the post that after contacting her doctor again, she was able to get the Misoprostol she needed at another Walgreens pharmacy.

She also said she spoke with Mr Hreniuc’s manager who she said “did not seem happy about what had happened” as well as filing formal complaints with the corporate offices and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.

In a statement, Walgreens said that pharmacists are allowed to "step away" from filling such prescriptions but are required to help the patient fill their needs by transferring the prescription to another location.

Her situation is not an isolated one. Several women across a number of states have reported that they were denied prescriptions or over-the-counter “morning after” pills that are available to terminate pregnancies, unwanted or due to miscarriages.

Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota are all states that protect the rights of pharmacists to deny women these prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

Ms Arteaga has filed a complaint with the Arizona board of pharmacy.

Only in California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington, and Wisconsin are pharmacists required to provide them.

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