Complaint: Pharmacist refuses to fill prescription over abortion concerns

Credit: Mike di Donato

Complaint: Pharmacist refuses to fill prescription over abortion concerns

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by Nishi Gupta

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 12, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 24 at 3:00 PM

NAMPA -- A new Idaho law enacted in 2010 is designed to protect medical professionals by allowing them to refuse health care services that conflict with their religious, moral or ethical principles.

But Planned Parenthood says a Nampa pharmacist acted in the wrong and was not protected by the law when she refused to fill a prescription.

Planned Parenthood has responded by filing a complaint with the state.

The prescription at the center of this is methergine. It’s used to prevent bleeding after childbirth or after an abortion.

In November, a Planned Parenthood nurse called this Nampa Walgreen's for a methergine prescription.

According to Planned Parenthood, the Walgreen's pharmacist asked if their patient had an abortion.

The nurse says she cited federal patient privacy laws and refused to answer.

"The pharmacist said, 'Well, if you're not going to tell me that and she had an abortion, I'm not going to fill this prescription.' And then our practitioner said, 'Why don't you tell me another pharmacy that I can call or another pharmacist that can dispense this medication for my patient?' And the pharmacist hung up on her," said Kristen Glundberg-Prosser of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

Planned Parenthood called the pharmacist's actions dangerous.

"In this situation our patient needed that medication and it could have been a life threatening thing had she not acquired it and for someone just to decide that they don't want to dispense it because they don't believe in that medication or they don't approve of a patient, it's just wrong," said Kristen Glundberg-Prosser of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

The Planned Parenthood nurse found medication from another provider, but wasn't through.

She filed a complaint with the state Board of Pharmacy, the agency that oversees Idaho pharmacists and their licenses.

The agency is reviewing to determine whether or not rules were broken.

"We're nearing the end of our investigation. Next week I think we should have a conclusion," said Mark Johnston of the Idaho Board of Pharmacy.

Planned Parenthood, though, is convinced the pharmacist broke the law.

In Idaho, pharmacists and health care providers can refuse to dispense emergency contraception or medications that induce abortions.

Methergine, according to Planned Parenthood, is neither.

"She did not act in the scope of the law, she was not in compliance with the law of Idaho," said Kristen Glundberg-Prosser of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

If the state board of pharmacy finds the pharmacist was in violation, she could face fines and lose her license.

Planned Parenthood says it was told the pharmacist received a refresher of Walgreen's corporate policy.

KTVB asked a Walgreen's spokesman if the pharmacist faced any disciplinary action.

We were told the company does not comment on personnel matters. 
 

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