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MN woman sues two pharmacies for refusing to fill emergency contraception prescription

Updated: December 10, 2019 11:04 PM

A Minnesota woman is suing two different pharmacies claiming they illegally refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception. 

Andrea Anderson, 39, lives in McGregor in rural Aitkin County. She is a committed mom and licensed foster parent, but after an intimate night with her longtime love, the couple realized the protection they used broke. With five children already, they weren't ready for another. 

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"The next morning, I got up and said, 'We can't roll the dice,'" she said.

Anderson's doctor wrote a prescription for emergency contraception. She called ahead to Thrifty White Pharmacy, the only drug store in town, to make sure the morning-after pill would be available.

"You have five days to take it, so the clock was ticking," Anderson said.

But in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Aitkin County, with the help of Gender Justice, a legal nonprofit, Anderson alleged the pharmacist George Badeaux refused to fill it based on his "beliefs" and "warned" against trying another nearby pharmacy. Anderson contends this was sex discrimination and violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act 

"I was flabbergasted," Anderson said. "I couldn't believe something like that was happening."

Anderson said she went to the CVS in Aitkin and was denied service again.  Eventually, a third pharmacy in Brainerd gave her the medication. Anderson later filed the lawsuit and a complaint with the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. 

Cody Wiberg is the director of the board, which oversees 6,800 pharmacists.

"There is no law in Minnesota that specifically deals with whether or not a pharmacist has to dispense an oral contraceptive," he said.

Wiberg went on to say pharmacists have one obligation: "assist a patient in getting medicine at a different pharmacy as nearby as possible and as quickly as possible."

He said this type of complaint is rare — it's the just the third one in 20 years. 

Over time Anderson said she learned there was a previous incident reportedly involving the same pharmacist before her encounter and she took action "to make sure no other woman has to go through this."

CVS said in a statement it "has policies to make sure customers get prompt service" and that it will investigate the allegations.

The pharmacy at Thrifty White said Tuesday that Badeaux is no longer working there. When reached via phone at his home, Badeaux said he couldn't comment for legal reasons.

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Beth McDonough

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