State laws banning abortion “from the moment of fertilization” could interfere with access to emergency contraception.

A Minnesota woman sued a pharmacy for denying her emergency contraceptives in January 2019. 
The pharmacist told Andrea Anderson he couldn’t fill her prescription because of his beliefs.
However, a jury ruled the pharmacist didn’t violate her rights. 

A Minnesota jury on Friday ruled that a pharmacist did not discriminate against a woman when he refused to fill her emergency contraception prescription. 

Gender Justice, which represented the plaintiff Andrea Anderson, said they  believed the pharmacist’s “actions constitute illegal sex discrimination and will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure Minnesota patients can safely access the health care they need.”

In January 2019, Anderson’s doctor sent a prescription for Ella, or ulipristal — an emergency contraceptive, to the only pharmacy in her town, according to court documents. 

Anderson’s initial form of birth control had failed and she needed emergency contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. The pharmacist at Thrifty White told her he couldn’t fill the prescription because of his “beliefs” and warned her against trying another pharmacy in the area, the complaint said. 

She then drove to a CVS that was 20 miles away, which also told her they couldn’t fill it, according to the complaint.  Anderson said she had to drive to a pharmacy over 50 miles from her home in a snowstorm to have her prescription filled, the complaint said.

Gender Justice argued that refusing to fill Anderson’s prescription was illegal sex discrimination and violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

 “To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits sex discrimination and that includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman said. 

The group noted that there has been a noted rise in pharmacies denying patients emergency contraceptives after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Anderson said she’s concerned about other women being turned away when requesting emergency contraception. 

“I can’t help but wonder about the other women who may be turned away,” she said. “What if they accept the pharmacist’s decision and don’t realize that this behavior is wrong? What if they have no other choice? Not everyone has the means or ability to drive hundreds of miles to get a prescription filled. I can only hope that by coming forward and pursuing justice that others don’t have to jump through the ridiculous hurdles I did.”

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