Imagine you are desperately sick. Imagine you go to your doctor, and he or she is able to correctly diagnose your illness. He or she writes you a prescription, and your gratefully go to your local pharmacy to pick up your medicine. Now, imagine that someone at the pharmacy refuses to give you your medicine on personal grounds. That is exactly what happened to a woman named Brittany Cartrett recently.
Sadly, Cartrett experienced a miscarriage only six weeks into her pregnancy. To expel her lost son or daughter from the womb, Cartrett’s doctor wrote out a prescription for Misoprostol. This was after Cartrett decided against having a D&C. She felt a D&C procedure would be too uncomfortable, and the medicine would be less invasive.
Initially, the doctor’s office called a local Walmart to fill the prescription. Without giving a reason to the doctor’s office, the pharmacy refused the order. Cartrett ended up going to a different Walmart pharmacy that accepted the prescription. However, when Cartrett arrived to pick up the medicine, she was refused by the pharmacist. When Cartrett asked why, the pharmacist replied, “I couldn’t think of a valid reason why you would need this prescription.” In other words, the pharmacist was uncomfortable dispensing what she believed to be a medicine that would kill an unborn child.
As angry as this might make a person, the pharmacist was within her legal rights. In fact, it has been legal for at least 15 years. Brian Nick, an employee at Walmart’s corporate office, explained the reasoning. “Our pharmacists fill prescriptions on a case by case basis every day in our stores throughout the country.” He continued, “We encourage them to exercise their professional judgment in doing so.” In other words, as trained medical professionals, pharmacists can refrain from dispensing something they believe is harmful.
Understandably, Cartrett was upset. She said, “It’s very frustrating because who is the pharmacist to make that decision?” She continued, “I understand that they go to school for a very long time for that job. They do a residency just like a doctor does, but I’m not going to see that pharmacist.” In Cartrett’s opinion, a pharmacist is a clerical worker first and a medical professional second.
After writing about her experience on Facebook, Cartrett learned other women have had similar experiences. One woman even needed to travel to several different pharmacies to have her own prescription filled. It’s enough to make people wonder how widespread this practice is in America.
In case you are wondering if this has the possibility of happening to you, it can if you happen to live in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri and South Dakota. A broader version of the law that allows this is in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine and Tennessee.
Now, these laws do make some sense. For example, prescription drug abuse is real, and there are plenty of doctors out there willing to writes oodles of prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs that can be abused for profit. A pharmacist might be the last line of defense against crooked doctors and drug dealers like these. There is also a compelling case to be made for the conscience of a pharmacist. Handing over the drug that you know will kill a baby is an unsettling thought. It would be comparable to a liberal landlord hesitant to allow a gun shop to open up in one of his buildings near a high school.
Notwithstanding the above, if someone has a right to a medication, he or she should be able to get it. What do you think? Let us know below!