Walgreens pharmacist allegedly denies Arizona woman miscarriage medicine over his personal beliefs

Grant Boone
June 26, 2018

An Arizona woman is putting a public spotlight on a Walgreen's pharmacist who she says wouldn't give her a prescription to end her pregnancy.

In an emotional Yelp review, Arizona native Nicole Arteaga explained that her doctor had informed her that her baby had stopped developing and she was going to suffer a miscarriage. For Arteaga to speak out publicly about this requires incredible strength, and while she says, "It was comforting to know I'm not the only one", I am furious that this pharmacist's actions forced Arteaga to speak out on behalf of women who have to deal with this.

Rather than have a surgical procedure to remove the fetal tissue from her uterus, Ms. Arteaga, a first-grade teacher who lives in Peoria, Ariz., decided on Wednesday to take misoprostol, a medication that can be used to end a failed pregnancy. Arizona's law says hospitals and physicians can refuse abortion services and emergency contraception if doing so violates their beliefs.

"Nobody should have to shop around to different pharmacies to find someone who will serve them", said state Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs.

Arteaga walked into the Walgreens at Peoria and 91st avenues on Thursday with her 7-year-old son to grab dinner, choose a movie and pick up the medications prescribed by her doctor.

After receiving word that her unborn baby no longer had a heartbeat, it was hard to imagine how things could get worse for Nicole Arteaga, until they did.

"I've been in a similar situation where I had to make a decision about terminating a pregnancy and it is heartwrenching", Hobbs said.

"I had a hard time getting to sleep with all these thoughts going through my mind about how a person could control or have control over something that I needed for my well being", she told Buzzfeed News.

Ms Arteaga said she left the store in tears, "ashamed and feeling humiliated".

The mother shared her story online, saying she didn't want any other woman to go through what she went through.

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Walgreens said on Saturday that it had contacted Ms. Arteaga "and apologized for how the situation was handled", but suggested that the employee had not run afoul of company policy by refusing to fill the prescription.

But when she went to the Walgreens to fill the prescription, the pharmacist wouldn't do it "because of his ethical beliefs", according to Arteaga.

In a statement to media outlets, Walgreens confirmed that company policy allowed its pharmacists to "step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection".

After it went viral, however, Walgreens issued a statement that said Hreniuc acted within the company guidelines.

Arizona is one of six U.S. states where it's legal for pharmacies or pharmacists to refuse to a fill a prescription for religious or moral reasons, according to the National Women's Law Center. Wary of a repeat performance, she asked her doctor to ensure the pharmacist at the second location would give her the medication before going to pick it up.

"We're literally endangering people by stepping in, in these ways and that definitely is a huge concern", she said. According to her, Walgreens didn't reach out to her. Arteaga said she reached out to them.

Instead, the prescription was transferred to another Walgreens store.

"Last night I experienced something no woman should ever have to go thru [sic]", posted Arteaga, a teacher.

Arteaga said the he did not explain any further.

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