Minnesota jury sides with pharmacist who refused to fill contraceptive prescription because of religious beliefs

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A Minnesota pharmacist did not violate a woman’s consumer rights by refusing to give her emergency contraceptives, a jury decided Friday.

George Badeaux faced a lawsuit that went to trial last week after Andrea Anderson sued her under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, pregnancy or childbirth. Badeux claims Anderson was not given contraceptives because of her religious beliefs.

Gender Justice, who represents Anderson in the case, told Minnesota Public Radio News he will appeal the decision.

“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits gender discrimination and includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman said in a statement. “The jury is not deciding what the law is, they are deciding the facts of what happened here in this particular case. We will appeal this decision and will not stop fighting until Minnesotans get the health care they need without interference from providers. Putting their personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical responsibilities to their patients.”

MN pharmacist sued for refusing to fill prescription for emergency contraception because of religious beliefs

A jury has sided with a Minnesota pharmacist sued for violating the state’s Human Rights Act.

Anderson filed her claim in January 2019 after going to a thrifty white pharmacy in McGregor, Minn., with a prescription for a morning-after pill. After Badeaux told her he wouldn’t fill the prescription because of her beliefs, she called other pharmacies that said they couldn’t fill it. She eventually made a round-trip of more than 100 miles so she could fill her prescription at a pharmacy that could accommodate her, which took “more than three hours” because of the winter storm, the complaint said.

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Anderson’s complaint states that the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, but requires consumers to provide information on an alternative way to fill it. Anderson alleged that Budex told her that another pharmacy employee would be there the next day, but he could not guarantee that this person would help her or show up because of the weather. Instead of telling her where she could go to fill a prescription, Anderson claims, Budex told her which pharmacies wouldn’t help her.

Aitkin County District Judge David Hermerding said Badeaux could not raise federal constitutional issues, such as religious freedom, in his defense because the case was filed under the state’s Human Rights Act.

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“The issue for the jury was not the defendant’s constitutional rights,” the judge wrote. “Whether they intentionally misled, obscured and blocked Ms. Anderson’s access to emergency contraception”.

The judge said Bedoux was allowed Explain his religious beliefs To the jury, the judge ruled, “but not in such a way as to confuse the jury into thinking it was a religious freedom contest.”

Baddeux sided with the jury on the matter, who awarded Anderson $25,000 for emotional damages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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