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Walgreens pharmacist cites ethical beliefs, denies Arizona woman’s prescription to end pregnancy

PEORIA, Ariz. — An Arizona woman is going public after she says a Walgreens pharmacist denied her medication to end a pregnancy.

“How can they make that choice for me?”

Nicole Arteaga posted her story on Facebook, and the post has already been shared some 33,000 times and has garnered about 14,000 comments.

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

Arteaga says she went to the Walgreens at 91st Avenue and Peoria to get a prescription for a medication to end her pregnancy. She was two months pregnant, but her doctor had told her the baby’s development had stopped and she would ultimately miscarry.

“I was having an undeveloped fetus with no heartbeat and so ultimately was going to have a miscarriage,” she told AZ Family.

Her doctor told her she could undergo a D&C (dilation and curettage procedure) or take prescription medication.

“There were two… options. The medical procedure called a D&C, and go into the hospital, or he could prescribe some medication and I could do it in the comfort of my home,” she said.

Arteaga opted for 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.

“(He) asks me if I’m pregnant, which I say yes, and he tells me, ‘I’m not giving you this one. I can’t give you this one,'” she told us.

“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. 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,” she wrote in her Facebook post.

Arteaga says she left Walgreens in tears.

“My son, seeing me get so upset and he’s trying to figure out why are you crying, once I couldn’t hold it in anymore,” she said.

She says she later received an email notification that her prescription was ready at another Walgreens across town. She says the pharmacist had “ultimately had it transferred to another location that had it in stock after I had left upset.”

Arteaga was able to pick up the prescription at the other Walgreens with no problems.

Arteaga says she has contacted the store manager, Walgreens’ corporate office, and has filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.

“It doesn’t make sense and it definitely is not fair in any way,” she said.

Walgreens released the following statement about the incident:

“After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled. 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. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients’ needs are handled properly.”