Pharmacies have updated their policies to allow pharmacists to deny nonpregnant people prescribed medications if they suspect the customer is trying to circumvent abortion laws by causing a miscarriage.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, making abortion laws a state-by-state decision. In states where abortion is banned, pharmacists are scrutinizing prescriptions that may cause birth defects or miscarriage for women even if they aren't pregnant or have no plan to become pregnant because of worries over the legality if an inadvertent miscarriage in someone who wasn't aware of their pregnancy were to occur.
Walgreens updated its company policy to allow pharmacists to use their discretion and "professional judgment" when determining the legality of a prescription based on local laws. CVS has gone a step further, requiring its pharmacists to confirm a medication won't be used to terminate a pregnancy before it fills a prescription, according to a company spokesperson.
A number of cases of denied prescriptions for people who weren't pregnant have made national news. Fourteen-year-old Emma Thompson in Tucson, Arizona, was denied a rheumatoid arthritis medication refill just two days after Arizona's new abortion law took effect because the drug can also be used to end ectopic pregnancies.
Walgreens denied a 14 year old Methotrexate which she takes for JRA. It can also be used when dealing with ectopic pregnancies. The pharmacy had no reason, or right to deny the perscription. Even if it was for an abortion, it's not their business!— RV Fulltimer (@J_in_RVA) October 6, 2022
This is the letter I sent them. pic.twitter.com/mVUWdhU3DQ
A patient in Louisiana was denied a prescription for misoprostol to make the insertion of her IUD less painful. The drug has other uses, including treating stomach ulcers, but the pharmacist denied the medication because it's also one of the drugs used in the abortion pill. Even after Walgreens called the prescribing doctor who explained what it was for, the pharmacist still refused to fill it.
This isn't the first time that pharmacists have come under scrutiny related to reproductive rights. Both CVS and Walgreens both have had policies on the books before Roe was overturned that allowed pharmacists to deny filling birth control and abortion prescriptions if it violated their religious beliefs. In those cases, however, the pharmacist is also required to refer the patient to another pharmacist or manager who will fill it.