Last Friday’s verdict of a Minnesota jury is hailed as a win for those supporting limits on abortion service. Last week, a jury in McGregor, Minnesota, found that a pharmacist was not in violation of the law when he denied a customer a prescription for the so-called morning-after pill.
The customer, Andrea Anderson, reportedly entered Thrifty White Pharmacy in McGregor in January 2019. The problem stems from the pharmacist George Badeaux informing Anderson that he would not fill the prescription on “religious grounds.”
Anderson responded by suing Badeaux under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination based on sex, pregnancy, or childbirth.”
Fox News reported that Gender Justice represented Anderson in the suit.
The court found that in this particular situation, Badeaux was justified in refusing to fill the prescription. However, recognizing that the customer experienced “emotional distress” due to the encounter and having to weather a snowstorm to have the prescription filled some 50 miles away, the court awarded the plaintiff $25,000.
Fox reports that Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman told Minnesota Public Radio News:
“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits sex discrimination and that includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception. The jury was not deciding what the law is, they were deciding the facts of what happened here in this particular case.
“We will appeal this decision and won’t stop fighting until Minnesotans can get the health care they need without the interference of providers putting their own personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”
Minnesota’s Board of Pharmacy allows pharmacists to decline filling prescriptions for emergency contraception but requires staff to provide customers information regarding alternate ways to have the prescription filled.
Anderson alleged that rather than providing that information, Badeaux told her that “another pharmacy employee would be in the next day, but that he could not guarantee that this person would help her or even show up due to the weather,” according to Fox News.
Aitkin County District Judge David Hermerding determined Badeaux could not claim religious exemption because that was a federal constitutional issue and the case was filed under the state’s Human Rights Act.
Hermerding ruled: “The issue for the jury is not the defendant’s constitutional rights. “It is whether he deliberately misled, obfuscated, and blocked Ms. Anderson’s path to obtaining” emergency contraception. The jury agreed that the answer to that question was no.
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