Woman files lawsuit after pharmacist refuses to take morning-after pill

AITKIN, Minn. (KARE) — A Minnesota woman said she had to drive more than 100 miles for emergency contraception after saying a pharmacist refused her prescription because of his religious beliefs. Now the woman is suing.

With corporate headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota, Thrifty White Pharmacy has a total of 94 locations. According to court documents, it was the only pharmacy in all of McGregor, Minnesota.

The documents say that when Andrea Anderson’s birth control failed, her doctor wrote her a prescription for the morning-after pill. However, Thrifty White’s pharmacist on duty said he wouldn’t fill it because of his “belief”.

Anderson tried a larger chain 20 miles away, a CVS, where a pharmacist also said she couldn’t fill it.

Eventually she traveled to Brainerd, Minnesota and got the pill.

Jill Hasday, a centenarian law professor at the University of Minnesota, said Anderson had to drive 100 miles to get the pill because of her location in the state.

“If you live in Minneapolis and a pharmacy refuses you access to the morning-after pills, you might be upset, but you can walk down the street. But in many areas there really aren’t many options, so these denials weigh a lot purely for practical reasons,” Hasday said.

Anderson settled with CVS but is suing Thrifty White in Aitkin County. The case is being brought under the state’s human rights law.

“There is no factual dispute as to what happened,” Hasday said. “It’s just a legal question. This is the first case in Minnesota that truly begs the question: is denying women access to birth control a violation of their protections from sex discrimination under human rights law?”

It’s a case of interest in Minnesota and across the country after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. to overthrow Wade, and many states have implemented abortion bans as a result.

“A living question in many states is: What reach will these bans have?” Hasday said. “A lot of the same people who are against abortion are also either against birth control at all or against birth control like the morning-after pill for sure. So, in states that have decided to limit abortion, you are already seeing moves to limit the morning-after pill.”

The US House of Representatives voted in July to pass a bill that would guarantee access to contraceptives. However, many reproductive rights activists are concerned that post-Roe v. calves are at risk.

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