Jury Verdict in Emergency Contraception Case Fails to Protect Patients; Gender Justice will Appeal
An Aitkin County jury has found that a Minnesota pharmacy did not discriminate when they refused to fill an emergency contraception prescription. Gender Justice will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure Minnesota patients can safely access the health care they need.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2022
Erin Hart, Communications Director
An Aitkin County jury has found that a Minnesota pharmacy did not discriminate against Gender Justice and Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP’s client when they refused to fill her emergency contraception prescription. The jury did find that while discrimination under the law had not occured, the pharmacist-in-charge caused Ms. Anderson emotional harm in the amount of $25,000. Gender Justice believes the pharmacy’s actions constitute illegal sex discrimination and will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure Minnesota patients can safely access the health care they need.
Gender Justice filed a lawsuit in 2019 on behalf of Andrea Anderson, a mom and foster parent who was denied service by a pharmacist at McGregor Pharmacy (formerly Thrifty White) when she sought to fill a prescription for emergency contraception. Gender Justice argued that denying Ms. Anderson service based on her reproductive health care needs is illegal sex discrimination and violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The case proceeded to trial on August 1.
“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits sex discrimination and that includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” said Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman. “The jury was not deciding what the law is, they were deciding the facts of what happened here in this particular case. We will appeal this decision and won’t stop fighting until Minnesotans can get the health care they need without the interference of providers putting their own personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”
“I can’t help but wonder about the other women who may be turned away,” said Anderson. “What if they accept the pharmacist’s decision and don’t realize that this behavior is wrong? What if they have no other choice? Not everyone has the means or ability to drive hundreds of miles to get a prescription filled. I can only hope that by coming forward and pursuing justice that others don’t have to jump through the ridiculous hurdles I did.”
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this summer, there has been a rise in pharmacists refusing to dispense contraception and emergency contraception to patients. With more than half of states working to ban access to safe, legal abortion care, access to prescription medications, including contraception, is more important than ever. Gender Justice hopes that a future victory in this case shows that people like our client, and countless others across the country who rely on their local pharmacies for birth control, cannot be discriminated against.