Last week a Georgia woman named Brittany Cartrett learned that she had a miscarriage. If that experience wasn’t traumatic enough, poor Brittany was then turned away by a Walmart pharmacist because she “didn’t believe there was any need” for Brittany to have the prescription for misoprostol filled. Misoprostol is a drug that is used for women that miscarry so they do not have to have an invasive surgery to remove the dead fetus – the drug is also used to terminate early pregnancies. Although the pharmacist denies that she refused to fill the prescription because of religious reasons, its exactly what one of Georgia’s laws allows: a pharmacist can refuse services “based on religious or personal beliefs.”
The law is so broad in fact that a pharmacist in Georgia can refuse to fill a prescription for any reason. Let me say that again, a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for ANY reason. The law says only, “It shall not be considered unprofessional conduct for any pharmacist to refuse to fill any prescription based on his/her professional judgment or ethical or moral beliefs.” I couldn’t agree more with what Amanda Marcotte wrote for Slate, “Appointing a bunch of busybody pharmacists as informal judges over whether you are emptying your uterus for the right reasons is a terrible idea that only compounds the pain of a miscarriage.”
It is not for a pharmacist to decide what a person needs medically (that’s what doctors are for), and that is why laws that seek to protect so-called religious freedom need to be repealed. Religious Freedom laws erode the progress we’ve made toward income and social equality. Laws are in place to take out the ambiguity and need for personal judgement in everyday occurrences. Religious Freedom laws blur the lines and grant people the right to discriminate legally – which is a huge and fatal step in the wrong direction.