US judge rules in favor of pharmacist who denied morning-after pill to woman

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A Minnesota jury has ruled that a pharmacy did not discriminate against a woman when she refused to give her the morning after pill.

The pharmacist gave “faith” as the reason for refusing to fill the emergency contraceptive prescription. Although the jury concluded that the woman’s rights had not been violated, she did say that the emotional damage caused by the decision was $25,000.

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Gender Justice, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Andrea Anderson in 2019, though the case didn’t go to trial until Monday.

Anderson was denied a morning-after birth control bill from numerous pharmacies and said she would have to travel a total of 100 miles to get a pill.

In a statement released by Gender Justice, she expressed concern about the precedent the jury has set and the message it gives to other women seeking emergency contraception.

“What if they accept the pharmacist’s decision and don’t realize that this behavior is wrong? What if they have no other choice?” said Anderson. “Not everyone has the means or ability to drive hundreds of miles to get a prescription.”

“Unfortunately, very personal health care decisions, such as whether or not to become pregnant and to grow a family, are highly politicized,” said Jess Braverman, legal director at Gender Justice. “It is illegal sex discrimination in the state of Minnesota for a pharmacist to refuse to provide emergency contraception without at least ensuring that a patient can get their prescription without additional delay and cost to them.”

The verdict follows a Supreme Court decision in June to override the constitutional right to abortion initially protected in the Roe v Wade case.

Minnesota still legally allows abortions after Roe’s overthrow, permanently blocking “numerous medically unnecessary restrictions” in July.

Friday’s jury decision coincided with Indiana imposing an almost complete ban on abortion, the first state to do so after Roe’s overthrow.

After that law passed, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly said it will be “forced to plan for more employment growth outside of our home state”.

“We are concerned that this law will hinder Lilly’s – and Indiana’s – ability to attract diverse scientific, technical and business talent from around the world,” it said.

Some traditionally conservative states, such as West Virginia and South Carolina, continue to debate and remain in the dark about reaching a conclusion on their abortion decision.

Last week, in the country’s first abortion referendum since the Supreme Court decision, Kansas voters rejected an amendment to their state constitution that protects abortion rights.

The surprise victory was celebrated as a testament to the desire for abortion rights across the country, even in Republican states.

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