Allegedly calling himself "a good Catholic male," a pharmacist in Michigan refused to fill a woman's prescription based on his belief that she would use the drug to abort a baby. In reality, Rachel Peterson needed the medication misoprostol to treat a miscarriage, the Detroit Free Press reports. The incident, which took place at a Meijer pharmacy in Petoskey, prompted the ACLU to file a complaint with the chain, saying 35-year-old Peterson was the victim of sex discrimination. In addition to being used to treat miscarriages, misoprostol is also commonly used to treat ulcers. "Had the customer been a man prescribed the same medication … the pharmacist would have filled it," the ACLU says in a statement. When combined with another drug, per the Free Press, misoprostol can be used to cause an abortion.
Upon learning that she had miscarried, Peterson declined more invasive procedures and opted to let her body complete the miscarriage on its own. After that took longer than expected, her doctor prescribed misoprostol. She says she went as far as to divulge to the pharmacist that the fetus was not viable, per the ACLU statement, but the pharmacist accused her of lying. Per Michigan Live, Meijer does allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription based on religious beliefs. However, the policy is to then have another pharmacist handle it or transfer it to another pharmacy. The pharmacist refused even that, says Peterson, who eventually did get the medication she needed from a different pharmacy. Meijer reportedly declined to comment on the specifics of this case. In its complaint, the ACLU demands that Meijer discipline the pharmacist in question and ensure that customers can get the medications that they are prescribed. (A similar story played out in Arizona over the summer.)