After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, rekindling debates over some forms of birth control, jurors in Minnesota are set to decide whether a pharmacist violated a woman’s civil rights when he declined to grant her access to emergency contraceptives.
A decision is expected by the end of the week.
“No Minnesotan seeking medical care should be denied due to the personal beliefs of their health-care providers,” said Jess Braverman, legal director of Gender Justice, which filed the lawsuit on Anderson’s behalf.
“Pharmacists, like any health-care provider, have a legal and ethical duty to provide their patients the care they need. In this regard, Andrea was failed at every turn, and we intend to ensure that others don’t have to jump the same ridiculous hurdles she did,” Braverman said in a previous statement.
An attorney for Badeaux did not immediately respond Wednesday morning to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
The owner of McGregor Pharmacy did not return phone calls seeking comment.
In the winter of 2019, Anderson, a mother and foster parent, got a prescription from her doctor for the morning-after pill ella after her primary birth control method, a condom, failed, according to the lawsuit.
Research shows that emergency contraceptives such as ella prevent pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation to avoid fertilization. Unlike the drug Mifeprex, these pills do not end a pregnancy, which the scientific community defines as an already fertilized egg that has implanted into the wall of the uterus.
Morning-after pills such as ella and Plan B must be taken within five days of unprotected sex, so Anderson “acted quickly because any delay in obtaining emergency contraception increases the risk of pregnancy,” the lawsuit stated.
Not long after the prescription was called in to McGregor Pharmacy, identified in court records as McGregor Thrifty White pharmacy, the pharmacist called Anderson and allegedly told her that for “personal reasons” he would not fill it, according to the lawsuit. It stated that Anderson first thought the pharmacist meant the prescription would interact with other medications. When she asked for clarification, he allegedly told her that he would not fill the prescription because of his ‘beliefs,’ ” according to the lawsuit. He allegedly told her there would be another pharmacist working the next day, but he could not guarantee that pharmacist would help.
Anderson said the pharmacist also discouraged her from trying another local pharmacy and failed to provide any information about how she could obtain the medication, according to the lawsuit.
She finally found a pharmacy 50 miles from her home that was willing to help. After driving for more than three hours through a snowstorm with her 2-year-old son in the car, she made it home with the medication, the lawsuit stated.
The trial in Minnesota comes amid a nationwide debate about contraception that has been gaining steam since the recent Supreme Court decision that reversed federal protections for abortion access. On July 21, the U.S. House voted to pass legislation that, under federal law, would protect people’s right to contraception and ensure that health-care providers are able to prescribe it. It’s unclear whether the bill will pass the U.S. Senate.
Anderson’s attorneys would not comment ahead of the jury’s decision. But in a previous statement they released, Anderson said she was raising awareness so others might not have to face the same roadblocks.
“Like anywhere, there are challenges to living in a rural area,” she said in a 2019 statement from Gender Justice. “But I never expected that they would include the personal beliefs of our local pharmacists, or that they would hold — and wield — such enormous decision-making power over my life.”
“I can only hope that by coming forward and pursuing justice that others don’t have to jump the ridiculous hurdles I did,” she said.