Denying service to customers based on personal beliefs is something of a hot-button issue as of late. When a restaurant owner in Virginia asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her restaurant, right-wing voters immediately argued that such a move was petty and unprofessional. When a baker refused to make a cake for an LGBT couple, however, the same dissenters are supportive of the individual’s choice.
While the discussion is certainly a dicey one, an expectant mother recently encountered a situation which highlights a glaring issue in an individual’s right to refuse service — specifically, an individual who is a medical professional.
Nicole Mone recently endured a heartbreaking experience when she met with her doctor and realized that she would not be carrying her latest pregnancy to term. The doctor gave Nicole a prescription to facilitate her miscarriage (a move which was medically necessary, and not motivated by any personal decisions on Nicole’s part). When Nicole went to fill the prescription at a Walgreens, however, she encountered some pushback from the pharmacist.
Nicole recounted her experience with the pharmacist, Brian Hrenuic, in a Facebook post which has since gone viral.
Nicole’s post reads:
This post isn’t something I generally do, but last night I experienced something no women should ever have to go thru especially under these circumstances or any other circumstances.
I hadn’t planned on telling anyone outside our immediate family but two months we were surprised to find out I was pregnant. After a previous miscarriage the doctor had been monitoring me weekly. Unfortunately on Tuesday we found out the baby’s development had stopped and I ultimately will have a miscarriage. Dr gave me two options D&C or prescription medication. I opted for prescription. Last night I went to pick up my medication at my local Walgreens only to be denied the prescription I need. 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. He has no idea what its like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so. If you have gone thru a miscarriage you know the pain and emotional roller it can be. 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. I am unsure where Walgreens draws the lines with their pharmacist but does this mean he denies women the right to birth control and morning after pill, and what’s the stance with fertility drugs. I share this story because I wish no other women have to go thru something like this at time when you are vulnerable and already suffering. I am in left in disbelief on how this can happen? How is this okay? I can’t be the only one who has gone thru this.
People were appalled by Nicole’s humiliating experience during such a vulnerable time, and screenshots of her Facebook post began making the rounds on Twitter.
Other pharmacists and medical professionals acknowledged that, while a pharmacist does have the right to refuse to fill a prescription, such a right is generally meant to be invoked when a pharmacist suspects that a prescription is forged or that filling a prescription will somehow endanger the health of the patient.
Walgreens more or less stood by their employee’s right to refuse to fill Nicole’s prescription, adding that they did reach out to her to apologize.
Nicole later updated her Facebook post to report that the pharmacist ultimately sent her prescription to be filled at a different Walgreens. Nicole also spoke to both a store manager and the Walgreens corporate office, and has filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.
After I walked out of Walgreens Thursday night without my prescription I received email notification that my prescription was ready at location across town. Brian H. ultimately had it transferred to another location that had it in stock after I had left upset. Yesterday morning I went to my see my Dr for his help in making sure that pharmacist at the second location would give it me. I picked up my prescription from that Walgreens with no problems.
I called and spoke to store manager who did not seem happy about what had happened. I have contacted Walgreens corporate office. I have filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. At this time I have done what I can to report the situation. Thank you to those who have shown love and support.
“I couldn’t control the fact that my body wasn’t going to support this pregnancy,” Nicole told CNN in an interview. “And I wanted this baby. I couldn’t control what my body was doing and now here I am trying to make my decision and what I’m going to do, and this person was taking that away from me and making that choice for me.”
Woman who was denied medication by pharmacist to induce miscarriage speaks out: “All I could feel was helplessness… I was thinking, ‘This is my body, and I’m losing control.'” https://t.co/Ao3Y8Cp47d https://t.co/yV9OpbH8Uu
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 25, 2018
While standing one’s ground both ethically and politically has become a somewhat contentious issue, such hangups really shouldn’t come into play when a person is dealing with an upsetting and life-altering situation.
Everyone is allowed to voice their beliefs — but at what point are you simply blowing hot air when you could be helping someone in their time of need?