A pro-life Arizona pharmacist has become front-page news over his refusal on moral grounds to fill an abortifacient prescription for a woman whose doctor reportedly diagnosed her pregnancy as an imminent miscarriage.
The woman, Nicole Arteaga of Peoria, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb, took to Facebook June 22 to complain that after being told by her doctor that she would miscarry her baby, she went to a local Walgreens pharmacy to fill a prescription that would induce an abortion, only to be denied by the pro-life pharmacist on duty, identified as Brian Hreniuc, who told Arteaga that he was morally opposed to filling the prescription.
The New York Times reported that rather than opting for a surgical abortion, Arteaga had “decided on Wednesday to take Misoprostol, a medication that can be used to end a failed pregnancy.”
But when she went to her local Walgreens to pick up the prescription, Hreniuc reportedly asked Arteaga if she was pregnant, reported the Times. “When she said she was, he refused to give her the Misoprostol, citing ‘his ethical beliefs,’she recalled in a detailed account on Facebook.”
Wrote Arteaga on Facebook: “I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs.” She added, “I left Walgreens in tears, ashamed and feeling humiliated by a man who knows nothing of my struggles but feels it is his right to deny medication prescribed to me by my doctor.”
The corporate office of Walgreens responded to the story with a statement saying that it had contacted Arteaga “and apologized for how the situation was handled.” The statement added that “to respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection.” The company added, however, that in such cases, pharmacists “are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner” — a contingency that was, apparently, followed to the letter by Hreniuc.
While the prescription was promptly filled by another local Walgreens, an irate Arteaga filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy in an apparent hope of landing Hreniuc in hot water for choosing to follow his conscience. “I share this story because I wish no other women have to go thru something like this at time when you are vulnerable and already suffering,” Arteaga insisted. “I am in left in disbelief on how this can happen? How is this okay?”
According to LifeNews.com, Arteaga’s anger against the pharmacist has gained traction nationwide. “Hreniuc is the target of numerous attack articles in the New York Times, the BBC, Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed, and other news outlets because he followed his conscience,” reported the pro-life news site. “People also have been flooding Walgreens with comments on social media demanding that Hreniuc be fired.”