Pharmacist Under Fire for Objecting to Abortion

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by David Nussman  •  •  June 27, 2018   

Woman prescribed pill commonly used for abortions, pharmacist refused to dispense it

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PEORIA, Arizona ( - A woman in Arizona was furious when a pharmacist refused to dispense medication. The pharmacist did so because the drug is used for chemical abortions.

Nicole Mone Arteaga claims her unborn child died in her womb early in the pregnancy and that the doctor recommended the medication Misoprostol to induce the impending miscarriage.

She went to get the prescription filled at her local Walgreens in Peoria, Arizona, but pharmacist Brian Hreniuc refused to dispense the drug, because he objects morally to abortion and thought Arteaga was getting the Misoprostol to induce an abortion — which is its common usage.

There was apparently an exchange between Arteaga and Hreniuc. When she left the store, Arteaga received a notification that her prescription was ready at a "location across town."

Arteaga complained about the experience, and it went viral. Mainstream media shed light on Arteaga's side of the story, casting the incident as an example of shoddy customer service.
Arteaga stated in her Facebook post, "I called and spoke to [the] 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."

Both Walgreens company policy and Arizona state law allow for pharmacists like Hreniuc to refrain from filling prescriptions they object to ethically.

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Local Arizona news station FOX 10 spoke with an attorney about it, who said, "That medication was directly against his religious belief, then his license wouldn't be impacted based on his actions."

Arizona law protects Hreniuc's right to refuse to provide contraceptives, abortion or abortifacients:

A pharmacy, hospital or health professional, or any employee of a pharmacy, hospital or health professional, who states in writing an objection to abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on moral or religious grounds is not required to facilitate or participate in the provision of an abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum.

State law allows people like Hreniuc to refuse to provide contraception and abortifacients. But their objection must be stated in writing, and it is unknown whether Hreniuc meets that requirement.

Walgreens said in a statement:

After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled. To respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner.

Hreniuc indeed obeyed this policy, as he referred Arteaga's prescription to a different Walgreens location. Arteaga waited about a day before updating her post with that important detail.


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