Walmart Pharmacist Refuses To Fill Prescription For Miscarriage Patient Citing ‘Conscience Clause’

By Jameson Parker | 13 April 2015
Addicting Info

A woman who had just tragically suffered a miscarriage was unable to get the medically necessary drugs her doctor ordered for her because the pharmacist at her local Walmart refused to fill it.

About five weeks into her pregnancy, Brittany Cartrett was told by her doctor that the child hadn’t made it. To avoid serious health consequences that may come with a miscarriage, she was given two options: an invasive “dilation and curettage” procedure which would surgically remove the contents of the uterus, or a pill that would have the same effect but would be less invasive. She opted for the second option.

Unfortunately, getting the medicine in order to treat herself proved difficult because of a Walmart pharmacist’s refusal to help her. Cartrett recounted her infuriating incident with Georgia news station WGXA (emphasis added):

“So we made the decision to not do a D&C and to get a medicine. So he said I’m going to give you this medicine, you’ll take it, and it will help you to pass naturally so that you don’t have to go the more invasive route”, said Brittany Cartrett.

The doctor’s office called the Milledgeville Walmart to fill the prescription but they were told no and they were not given a reason. 

“So we found another place to fill it but I still had to go up [to the Milledgeville Walmart] to get another prescription so when I went up there she asked if I had any questions about this prescription I said no I don’t but I do have a question about the other one. And she looks at my name and she says oh, well…I couldn’t think of a valid reason why you would need this prescription,” Cartrett said.

The unidentified Walmart pharmacist took it upon herself to refuse to fill the prescription that a doctor had told his patient she needed. Why would this employee do that?

The answer may have less to do with medicine and more to do with personal belief. The drug that Cartrett was told to take is Misoprostol, which is also used to induce abortions. The pharmacist appears to have taken issue with giving out the drug just in case Cartrett was going to use it for that purpose. And this incident doesn’t appear to be isolated. According to a social media post Cartrett made documenting her experience, other people have come forward offering similar stories.

Cartrett summed up her feelings by asking, “If it’s…due to the conscience clause I think it’s called, then what other decisions are they making based on our health and our needs by not giving a prescription to someone who may or may not need it?”

Oddly, Walmart seems more concerned about the rights of its pharmacists to selectively discriminate than it does on its customers having access to the medicine they may need. When WGXA spoke with another pharmacist at the same Walmart, the man, Sandip Patel, said he was “aware of the situation” but defended his co-worker by saying pharmacists are allowed to reject prescriptions at their own discretion. (Georgia is one of six states that have a “conscience clause” which allows pharmacists to not dispense medicine they personally or religiously object to.)

A Walmart spokesperson also defended the pharmacist, saying, “Our pharmacists fill prescriptions on a case by case basis every day in our stores throughout the country and we encourage them to exercise their professional judgment in doing so.”

Undoubtedly, the right to refuse to fill a prescription can be a good thing. It gives pharmacists the ability to make judgments about certain drug combinations that may harm their patients, for example. However, that flexibility is now being twisted to also allow pharmacists to not serve people medication that they don’t want people using. Unsurprisingly, this often means pro-life pharmacists stonewalling women from getting contraception, morning after pills, or other medication used to induce abortions.

It’s particularly troubling that this occurred at a Walmart, which is America’s largest retailer by a truly depressing scale. For many Americans, Walmart is the closet pharmacy they have. If its employees can actively get in the way of a doctor’s prescription and its intended patient, it could have huge implications for the healthcare of Americans, especially women.

covers US politics, social justice issues, and other current events which aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Follow him on  Twitter.

Walmart Refuses To Fill Medication For Miscarriage Patient

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56 COMMENTS

  1. This is not isolated to these types of drugs. I have a serious health condition and the CVS pharmasist denied my prescription for pain killers my doctor prescribed and treated me like a drug addict. When I stopped going to CVS and switched to Walgreens, the pharmacist there tried to change my prescription from every 6 hours to every 8 hours because she thought I’d been on the medication too long and needed to wean off of it!

  2. Ok , we live in the United States of America , where We ALL have the freedom to live our lives as we see fit , freedom from religion , and that , but it seems that any more it is getting to the point where it is getting where we don't , I was raised Roman Catholic , but I do not practice any religion any more , do I believe in God , yes , but I don't see how one person has the right over another in this country , to deny anyone any thing over religion , or their " BELIEFS ".
    it is wrong ……..This is exactly why I stopped practicing religion to begin with , tired of hearing one Faith is more important then the other ….. GETTING VERY RIDICULOUS to say the least ……..

  3. When personal agendas affect what the Walmart spokesperson calls "professional judgement" it's time to find another job. And where does Walmart get off telling us they have professionals working gir them? Maybe if you graduate at the bottom of your class just scraping by makes you a professional at Walmart but not anywhere real professionals work. In medicine you put aside your personal agenda in order to provide care for those who need it. Period!

  4. many pharmacist go beyond their scope of practice and make decision for the care of a patient in which they personally have not evaluated a proper history, ordered and interrupted imaging and laboratory studies or examined the patient. This pharmacist is discriminating against a person they may or may not have even met yet given if it is a new customer to them. They do not carry any malpractice insurance and often time they tell patients harmful information in regards to discontinuing medications that patients are placed on for specific conditions, but are not held liable if patient suffers from their advise. Having belief are good but if it is to the point of inflicting harm onto someone else is it really a good belief system. Karma sucks, wait until this pharmacist is retired and trying to receive medications that the doctor prescribed and is refused or better yet she enjoys a dinner out and had a single glass of wine and is involved in a bad car accident. Just what if EMS/ paramedics/ physician smells the alcohol on her breath and refuses to treat because they evoke their right under the conscience clause without having all the information, guarantee she would sue and call discrimination. That would most likely never happen provider take a vow to do no harm and not to discriminate. With Power there comes responsibility.

    • Actually, many pharmacist do carry malpractice insurance and are held accountable for their actions. I am a pharmacist and am well aware of the fact that if I screw up and overdose someone, I could face a lawsuit and lose my job and license and never be able to practice the profession that I love again. Do I agree on how this particular pharmacist handled this situation? No. Do we know all of the fact about the situation? No.

  5. An underage child can go get birth control without parents permission, a woman can get an abortion, they sell the day after pill, BUT a perscription from a DOCTOR for a serious medical proceedure is denied by a PHarmacist because she don't believe. WHO MADE HER JUDGE! PUS FROM WALMART of all places!

  6. As a woman who has miscarried it hurts my heart to think that you could be going through all that emotional pain. Then to be judged and condemned by a medical professional.

  7. Religion has no place at work it's your personal belief why push to others your is to help your customers your personal shit leave at home on your time

  8. What is the difference between this and a patient who's doctor orders life saving treatment for him/her only to have an insurance companies doctor, who has never even seen let alone examined the patient, refuse to allow the treatment? It seems that money is an acceptable reason to most people while personal belief is not. Both reasons are BS and have no place in patient treatment at all. The life and healt of the patient is all that matters.

  9. Any decisions based purely on religious dictum and dogma must be made illegal – they are already unethical and disgusting.
    If you fools cannot provide proof of a god for your reasons of infringing upon other person’s rights, then you have absolutely no rights whatsoever.

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