A Walgreens pharmacist's refusal to fill a prescription on ethical grounds has focused the abortion debate on Peoria, Ariz. The controversy began when 35-year-old Nicole Mone Arteaga went public with her story in a Facebook post, reports CNN. Arteaga was 9 weeks into her pregnancy when her doctor informed her that he could detect no fetal heartbeat or development and that a miscarriage was certain. He gave her two options: She could have surgery to remove the fetus or take misoprostol, a medication approved by the FDA to end pregnancies in the first 10 weeks. She opted for the drug, but when she went to Walgreens to pick up the prescription, a male pharmacist told her he would not give it to her on moral grounds. Arizona is one of six states that allow pharmacists to take such action, notes the Arizona Republic.
"I was shocked," Arteaga tells the New York Times. "What I have inside of me is an undeveloped baby," she remembers telling the pharmacist, to no avail. "I need this to help get it out." Walgreens says its pharmacists can make such choices, but they must refer the patient to another pharmacist on duty. Arteaga says that never happened. "After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled," says a company statement. It was not immediately clear whether the pharmacist might face company discipline. Arteaga says she left the store "humiliated" because the pharmacist explained his decision in front of other customers and her 7-year-old son. “I get it we all have our beliefs,” she wrote. “But what he failed to understand is this isn’t the situation I had hoped for, this isn’t something I wanted." (Read more Walgreens stories.)