In what appears to be a unique case, a veteran Minnesota pharmacist went to court on Monday accused of violating the civil rights of a mother of five by refusing to fill her prescription for emergency contraception.
Andrea Anderson filed according to a civil lawsuit filed under the Minnesota Human Rights Act Ella the morning-after pill in the only pharmacy in her hometown of McGregor (population 391) in January 2019 after a condom broke during sex.
“She acted quickly because any delay in emergency contraception increases the risk of pregnancy,” the complaint reads.
But George Badeaux, who has been dispensing drugs from pharmacy McGregor Thrifty White for several decades, refused to fill Anderson’s prescription, claiming it violated his “beliefs,” according to the complaint.
“Badeaux informed her that another pharmacist would be working the next day who might be willing to fill the medication, but that he could not guarantee they would help,” the complaint reads.
Badeaux also warned Anderson against trying to have the prescription filled at a Shopko pharmacy in a nearby town and refused to tell her where else she could try, as required by state law, the in said the complaint.
Another pharmacist at a CVS in the city of Aitkin also prevented Anderson from filling the prescription. She traveled 100 miles round-trip “while a massive snowstorm headed toward central Minnesota” to fill the prescription at Walgreens in Brainerd, according to the complaint.
Anderson is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction ordering Badeaux and the pharmacy he works for to comply with state laws prohibiting sex discrimination, including issues related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The Badeaux trial, which began Monday with jury selection, comes as the once-dormant debate over contraception has been reignited after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade — and by prominent lawmakers like Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who openly question the constitutionality of birth control.
Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill guaranteeing the right to contraception under federal law.
Anderson is represented by attorneys from Gender Justice based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Neither her lawyers nor Badeaux’s representatives are commenting on the case.
A Gender Justice spokeswoman said the Anderson case appears to be the first in the country to be brought to justice by a woman who was denied contraception.
Originally, Anderson’s lawsuit included CVS as a defendant.
In court filings, Anderson said that after she was turned away by Badeaux, she called the CVS in Aitkin, where a technician told her she couldn’t fill her Ella prescription and falsely told her she couldn’t have Brainerd fill it, either Not.
Anderson and CVS reached an agreement before the case went to court, and she received unspecified compensation, court filings show.
NBC News asked CVS for the details of the settlement and to see if the technician faced disciplinary action, but it has received no response from the pharmaceutical giant.
After Anderson wrote her prescription, she called Thrifty White pharmacy and complained about how Badeaux treated her to owner Matt Hutera, court records show.
Badeaux has refused to fill out prescriptions for contraceptives on at least three more occasions because he believes they cause abortions, the papers show. He said he opposed giving Ella away as it could potentially prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
“It’s akin to depriving a newborn child of all care by throwing them out the back door into the woods,” he said in a court record.
but Ella doesn’t arrange abortions. It’s a prescription drug that won’t prevent pregnancy unless taken within five days of unprotected sex, the manufacturer says.
“If a person is already pregnant, meaning that a fertilized egg has implanted in their uterus, emergency contraception ‘will not stop or harm the pregnancy,'” Anderson’s attorneys said in their complaint.
Aitkin County District Judge David Hermerding has already ruled that Badeaux cannot raise constitutional issues such as freedom of religion at the trial, although he can present his beliefs to the jury.
“The problem for the jury is not the constitutional rights of the defendant,” the judge wrote. “The issue is whether he deliberately misled, obfuscated and blocked Ms. Anderson’s path to obtaining Ella.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/minnesota-pharmacist-trial-refusing-dispense-morning-pill-beliefs-rcna41030 Minnesota pharmacist in court for refusing to sell morning-after pill because of his ‘beliefs’