A Minnesota woman has sued her local pharmacist for refusing to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, an act she says violated her human rights.
Back in 2019, Andrea Anderson, a mother of five from McGregor, Minnesota, about two hours due north of Minneapolis, took a prescription for the emergency contraception pill Ella to the Thrifty White pharmacy, the only pharmacy in the small town, after she claims a condom broke during intercourse. However, the pharmacist on duty, George Badeaux, refused to fill it, claiming that emergency contraception violates his religious beliefs because it could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus.
“It is similar to removing all care from a newborn child by throwing it out the backdoor into the woods,” Badeaux said in a court filing.
Badeaux informed Anderson that another technician would be on hand the next day, weather permitting, but that he couldn’t guarantee that the person would be willing to dispense the pills. The lawsuit states that Badeaux also refused to direct Anderson to another pharmacist who might be able to help her, as required by state law.
Anderson claims that she then called a CVS in Aitkin, approximately 25 miles away, but the CVS technician there told her that she would not fill the prescription either. Anderson finally elected to drive 100 miles roundtrip, with a snowstorm looming, to fill the prescription at a Walgreens in Brainerd.
According to the lawsuit, Badeaux violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act when he refused to fill the prescription. The Act outlaws sex discrimination, including instances related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Aitkin County District Judge David Hermerding has already ruled that Badeaux and his lawyers may not invoke his First Amendment religious rights, though Badeaux will have an opportunity to explain his religious objections to emergency contraception without confusing “the jury into thinking this is a religious freedom contest.”
“The issue for the jury is not defendant’s constitutional rights,” Judge Hermerding wrote. “It is whether he deliberately misled, obfuscated and blocked Ms. Anderson’s path to obtaining Ella.”
Gender Justice — a group which claims that “[r]eligious beliefs are not a license to target, harass, or discriminate against or deny services to someone because of who they love or how they identify” — has provided Anderson with legal counsel.
Jury selection began on Monday, and the trial itself should conclude by Friday.
CVS was also named in the initial lawsuit, but the plaintiff and CVS have since reached an undisclosed settlement.