Woman files lawsuit after being denied morning after pill from pharmacist

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:27 PM EDT
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AITKIN, Minn. (KARE) – A Minnesota woman said she had to drive more than 100 miles for emergency contraception after she said a pharmacist denied her prescription because of his religious beliefs. The woman is now suing.

With a corporate office in Plymouth, Minnesota, Thrifty White Pharmacy has 94 locations total. According to court documents, it was the only pharmacy in all of McGregor, Minnesota.

The documents said when Andrea Anderson’s contraception failed, her doctor wrote her a prescription for the morning after pill. However, the Thrifty White pharmacist on duty said he wouldn’t fill it because of his “beliefs.”

Anderson tried a bigger chain 20 miles away, a CVS, where a pharmacist also indicated she could not fill it.

Eventually, she traveled to Brainerd, Minnesota, and got the pill.

Jill Hasday, a centennial professor in law at the University of Minnesota, said Anderson had to drive 100 miles for access to the pill because of her location in the state.

“If you live in Minneapolis and a pharmacy denies you access to morning after pills, you may be upset, but you can go down the street. But in many areas there’s really not many options, so these denials weigh very large just in a practical manner,” Hasday said.

Anderson settled with CVS but is suing Thrifty White in Aitkin County. The case is filed under the state’s Human Rights Act.

“There’s no factual dispute about what happened,” Hasday said. “It’s just a question of law. This is the first case in Minnesota that really raises the question of: Is denying women access to birth control a violation of their protection from sex discrimination under the Human Rights Act?”

It’s a case of interest in Minnesota and nationwide, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and many states then implementing abortion bans.

“One live question in many states is: What is going to be the reach of these prohibitions?” Hasday said. “Many of the same people who are opposed to abortion are also opposed to either all birth control or certainly birth control of the nature of the morning after pill. So, in states that have moved to restrict abortion, you’re already beginning to see moves to restrict the morning after pill.”

The U.S. House of Representatives voted in July to pass a bill that would guarantee access to contraception. However, many reproductive rights activists are concerned contraceptive measures are at risk after the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

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