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ACLU Files Complaint with Meijer After Pharmacist Refused to Fill Prescription for Customer Who Miscarried

October 17, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today filed a complaint with Meijer after a pharmacist refused to fill a customer’s prescription that was medically necessary to treat her miscarriage.  The ACLU is asking for an immediate investigation and that Meijer implement a policy that ensures all patients have access to prescribed medication.  

“All women should be able to go to a Meijer Pharmacy to obtain the medicine they need without fear of discrimination,” said Merissa Kovach, ACLU of Michigan Policy Strategist. “Our client clearly was a victim of sex discrimination. Had the customer been a man prescribed the same medication, that is also commonly used to treat ulcers, the pharmacist would have filled it.”

On July 1 2018, Rachel Peterson’s OB/GYN called-in a prescription to the Petoskey Meijer pharmacy for medication to treat Ms. Peterson’s recent miscarriage. It was crucial for her to take the medication in a timely manner to avoid having to undergo a more invasive surgical procedure. But the Meijer pharmacist on duty refused to fill her prescription, saying that “as a good Catholic male,” he could not “in good conscience fill the prescription” because he believed it was her intention to use it to end a pregnancy. When Ms. Peterson told him that her OB/GYN found no signs of viability from the fetus, which confirmed an early pregnancy loss, he accused her of lying and said “that was just [her] word.”

“When you’re at one of the lowest moments of your life,  you don’t expect this sort of demeaning treatment,” said Rachel Peterson. “A pharmacy should not be able to deny patients medication prescribed by their doctors based on the personal beliefs of a particular employee.”

The Meijer pharmacist also refused to let Ms. Peterson speak to another pharmacist or transfer her prescription to another pharmacy.  This forced Ms. Peterson to leave her family vacation in Petoskey and drive more than three hours to a Meijer pharmacy in Ionia to get the time-sensitive medicine that she required.

Meijer’s practice of allowing its pharmacist to refuse to fill prescriptions and decline to transfer them is discriminatory and violates Michigan’s public accommodations laws. The ACLU of Michigan is demanding Meijer implement a policy that ensures all pharmacy customers receive their medication without undue delay regardless of the personal beliefs of its pharmacists.