A Michigan pharmacist refused to provide a woman medicine to help complete her miscarriage because of his own religious views. Now Rachel Peterson (below) and the ACLU have sent a letter to the grocery chain Meijer (where he’s employed) to make sure no woman has to go through that again.
An Ionia woman is demanding that Meijer discipline a Petoskey pharmacist and implement a company-wide policy for how pharmacists should handle religious and moral objections to dispensing medication after she was denied a prescription to help complete a miscarriage.
Rachel Peterson, 35, alleges a pharmacist at the Meijer store on Lears Road in Petoskey refused to fill her prescription for a drug called misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) in July because of his personal religious views. She says he also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy.
Misoprostol can be used to prevent stomach ulcers and also can be used to induce labor during pregnancy, to aid in the completion of a miscarriage and in the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. When combined with another drug, it can be used to induce an abortion.
A woman who was likely vulnerable and suffering through an extremely traumatic experience was essentially told to suffer even more by a pharmacist who thinks abortion, even in the case of a miscarriage, is somehow an insult to God. It’s even more damning that he refused to let someone else do the job he was refusing to do.
The ACLU of Michigan already filed a complaint with Meijer, demanding action and calling the move “discriminatory,” “unacceptable,” and even “cruel.” They say that the pharmacist, Richard Kalkman, told Peterson he couldn’t fill the prescription because he’s “a good Catholic male.” When she explained that her doctors confirmed the fetus wasn’t even viable, he essentially called her a liar, saying, “that was just [her] word.”
Peterson was forced to leave her family vacation and drive three hours to another store to find a pharmacist who would do the job and give her the medicine before it was too late.
The ACLU’s assessment of the situation couldn’t be more spot on.
We demand prompt action from Meijer. No one should have to endure humiliation and the inconvenience of driving six hours to receive time-sensitive vital medication. Not only must Mr. Kalkman be disciplined for treating Ms. Peterson cruelly, but Meijer must implement a policy to ensure that all customers in the future receive their medication without undue delay regardless of the personal beliefs of its pharmacists. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions.
The ACLU also notes in its letter that when Peterson’s mother later called the pharmacy to get Kalkman’s name, he willingly shared details about the prescription with her… before once again suggesting Peterson was a liar. That’s not just cruel, it’s unethical, given that Peterson hadn’t offered consent for him to share her medical information with anyone else.
Just as no pharmacist should be allowed to get between a woman and a doctor because of his personal religious beliefs, no pharmacy should be allowing that person to be the last word on the subject in any particular store. It’s just adding insult to injury for patients already dealing with a difficult situation. In this case, Kalkman doesn’t just hold irrational views on abortion — refusing to help a woman who already suffered a miscarriage — he doesn’t seem to have basic human decency either.