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Petitioning Walgreens Media Relations
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Media Relations

Ask Walgreens Not to Let Women Hemorrhage

Last November, a woman took her prescription for Methergine, a drug that stops uterine bleeding regardless of cause, to Walgreens. The pharmacist, suspicious that the woman's uncontrolled bleeding may have been the result of an abortion, called the nurse practitioner who wrote the prescription to inquire why the patient needed it. When the nurse refused to answer because to do so would violate the patient's confidentiality, the pharmacist hung up on her and refused to fill the prescription. The pharmacist's conscience apparently also prevented her from even referring the woman to a pharmacy who would fill her prescription, leaving her alone, bleeding, and lost.

Incredibly, this behavior is legal because of Idaho's new conscience clause that allows health care professionals to opt out of providing certain types of reproductive health care, including emergency contraceptives and abortion care.

It is dangerous to allow women's medical care to be at the whim of the feelings of people like that Walgreen pharmacist. According to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, who filed a complaint with Walgreens, the pharmacy in question has taken undisclosed "corrective action" in this case.  That is not enough.

Ask Walgreens to issue a statement guaranteeing that women in of medication to protect their health, medication that does not act as contraception or an abortificent, will be able to access that vital medication at any of their pharmacies. Further, more sure their pharmacists do not abuse the conscience clauses and are trained on exactly what they do and do not have the right to opt out of and how to properly handle instances where they exercise that option, including providing referrals. 

Photo credit: Teeejayy

 


Letter to
Walgreens Media Relations
As you know, many of Walgreens 7,000 pharmacies are located in states with conscience clauses, laws that allow pharmacists to deny women emergency contraceptives and care related to abortions. While Walgreens is not responsible for the law, it is responsible for how its employees understand and implement it in their stores.

Last November, a woman took her prescription for Methergine, a drug that stops uterine bleeding regardless of cause, to the Walgreens in Nampa, Idaho. The pharmacist, suspicious that the woman's uncontrolled bleeding may have been the result of an abortion, called the nurse practitioner who wrote the prescription to inquire why the patient needed it. When the nurse refused to answer because to do so would violate the patient's confidentiality, the pharmacist hung up on her, refused to give a referral to a pharmacist who would help, and did not to fill the prescription. This left a Walgreen customer alone, bleeding, and lost.

This situation is unacceptable. While I am heartened to hear that Walgreens took "corrective action" in this case, steps must be taken to ensure that this does not happen again. Pharmacists must be trained to understand their state's conscience clauses (if they exist) and what exactly falls under their discretion. Further, they must be able to provide referrals to health care professionals who are willing to assist the patients. After all, one of Walgreen's own Seven Service Basics is "It's No Problem!" which requires employees to work with a customer until the problem is solved.

Walgreens must also issue a statement guaranteeing that women in severe need of medication to protect their health, medication that does not act as contraception or an abortificent, will be able to access vital medication at any of their pharmacies.

I look forward to hearing about your action on this important matter.

Thank you.