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Walgreens investigating pharmacist's refusal to give woman abortion drug for ethical reasons

Walgreens is investigating a pharmacist who allegedly refused to provide a woman with a prescribed abortion drug due to his "ethical beliefs." The company said its policy does not require pharmacists to fill prescriptions if they have objections, but they are supposed to find someone else who will fill it. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Walgreens pharmacist in Arizona refused to provide a pregnant woman with an abortion drug prescribed to her, allegedly because the drug went against his "ethical beliefs," the New York Times reported.

In a Facebook post, Nicole Arteaga said she was getting the drug because her pregnancy was unviable and she preferred the drug over a surgical procedure to remove the fetus.

"I left Walgreens in tears, ashamed and feeling humiliated by a man who knows nothing of my struggles but feels it is his right to deny medication prescribed to me by my doctor," Arteaga wrote.

What happened?

Arteaga found out nine weeks into her pregnancy that there was no fetal heartbeat. Her pregnancy was going to end in a miscarriage.

Her doctor gave her the option to either have surgery to remove the fetus, or to take the drug misoprostol.

She dropped the prescription off at Walgreens. When she went to pick it up later, the pharmacist, Brian Hreniuc, asked her if she was pregnant. When she said she was, Hreniuc allegedly refused to give her the prescription, even after she explained the situation.

"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 ethical beliefs," Arteaga wrote.

How did Walgreens respond?

Walgreens reportedly reached out to Arteaga and apologized over the weekend. The company said its policy does not require pharmacists to fill prescriptions if they have moral or ethical objections. However, the pharmacists are supposed to find someone else who will fill it.

"To respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection," a Walgreens statement read.

Still, pharmacists are "required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner."

The company is investigating the incident, although a company spokesman was not specific to the Times about what that investigation involved.

(H/T: Vice News)

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