Jury decides in favor of the pharmacist chaplain in the case of contraception

pharmacy
A pharmacy employee enters customer information while working at a pharmacy in New York December 23, 2009 to fill out a prescription. |

A Minnesota jury ruled that a pharmacist who refused to fill a woman’s prescription for emergency contraception in 2019 because of his religious objections did not violate the state’s discrimination law.

An Aitkin County jury ruled last week that George Badeaux, a pharmacist at McGregor Pharmacy in McGregor who also serves as a local pastor, did not violate state human rights laws when he refused to give Andrea Anderson the morning-after pill on moral grounds to give in 2019.

Although the jury ruled in favor of Badeaux, the jury also concluded that Anderson suffered $25,000 in “emotional damage.”

The feminist group Gender Justice, which represented the plaintiff, condemned the jury’s decision and said it would appeal the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“To be clear, Minnesota law prohibits sex discrimination, and that includes refusing to fill out emergency contraceptive prescriptions,” said Jess Braverman, legal director for gender justice expression.

“We will be appealing this decision and will not stop fighting until Minnesotans can receive the healthcare they need without interference from providers who put their own personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”

In 2019, Anderson submitted legal action, and claimed the pharmacist violated Minnesota human rights law. A trial began on August 1st.

The mother-of-five claims she had to drive over 100 miles round-trip for about three hours in wintry conditions to get emergency contraception from another provider in Brainerd.

Anderson said she also contacted a local CVS, but her prescription request was denied. Anderson is also suing the CVS pharmacy.

“The pharmacists I encountered ignored my health care needs and my doctor’s orders,” Anderson said in one expression. “I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was angry.”

Aitkin County District Judge David Hermerding said religious freedom issues should not be considered.

“The issue for the jury is not the constitutional rights of the defendant,” the judge said, as quoted by The Associated Press. “The issue is whether he deliberately misled, obscured and blocked Ms Anderson’s path to obtaining it [emergency contraception.]”

Charles Shreffler, Badeaux’s attorney, said he and his client were happy with the decision and did not believe Anderson would receive damages because the jury found she was not discriminated against.

“We are incredibly happy with the jury’s decision,” Shreffler said in a statement shared with the media. “Medical professionals should be free to practice their profession consistent with their beliefs.”

The pharmacist does not have to pay the $25,000 unless the finding that he did not discriminate against Anderson is overturned as the litigation progresses.

“In order to [Badeaux] to be liable for damage, he must be held liable. The jury must first find that he discriminated against Ms. Anderson based on her gender, and the jury has specifically found that he did not discriminate against her,” Shreffler said Minnesota Public Radio.

in a (n interview With Fox & Friends First host Todd Piro, Badeaux said Wednesday he believes people “should be able to act out our beliefs in our workplace.”

“I couldn’t fill out this prescription because one of the drug’s possible mechanisms of action is that it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus,” Badeaux continued. “In my eyes that would end a new human life.”

Badeaux defended his refusal to use emergency contraception, saying he “did everything I could” to help the woman “given the facts”.

“I made every effort to call the patient when there was a small possibility that the pharmacist who would be working the next day and filling the prescription might not make it because of a snowstorm forecast,” he added.

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