Jury sides with pharmacist in trial over contraception access

Access to reproductive health products has gotten murkier after a Minnesota jury ruled in favor of a pharmacist who refused to sell contraceptives in 2019 because of his beliefs, according to MPR News

The jury said the pharmacist, George Badeaux, did not discriminate when he didn't fill a customer's prescription for Ella, an emergency contraceptive that works to delay or prevent ovulation. 

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy allows pharmacists to decline to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives if it goes against their beliefs as long as they refer the order to another pharmacist or pharmacy, according to MPR News. Mr. Badeaux told the plaintiff, Andrea Anderson, over the phone another employee who could fill the prescription might not make it to work because of a snowstorm. 

Ms. Anderson said she then drove to another pharmacy in a three-hour round trip. 

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in May, pharmacists have been stuck in the middle of conflicting laws. The HHS said July 13 that access to emergency contraceptives is protected under federal nondiscrimination law, but the largest retail pharmacies said they're leaving the decision up to individual workers. 

Gender Justice, the legal group representing Ms. Anderson, said Aug. 5 it plans to appeal the decision. Ms. Anderson was awarded $25,000 for emotional damages, but Mr. Badeaux will not have to pay unless the no-discrimination decision is changed on appeal.

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