Arizona Revised Statute 36-2154 allows Arizona pharmacists explicitly to refuse to fill scripts due to their own religious or moral beliefs, but only for abortion and contraceptive-type drugs, and it enables pharmacists to turn customers away without critical protections for patients, such as requirements to refer or transfer prescriptions to a pharmacist who will fill them.
A Fountain Hills transgender woman, Hilde Hall, was recently denied a hormone script which was necessary for her continued treatment, and sadly this is just another instance of discrimination against a transgender woman.
In my research, I quickly found a dozen reports of women being denied prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception because the law says pharmacists can refuse to fill scripts with which they are uncomfortable based on moral or religious reasons – but only in relation to abortion or preventing the fertilization of an ovum. Hilde Hall was not trying to prevent a pregnancy, and ARS 36-2154 should not have been invoked to protect any of the pharmacists who rudely refused to do their jobs for these women.
The law does not require the pharmacist to be in the bedroom when the couple’s preferred contraception method fails, nor allow them to know when the prescription might be for a survivor of rape, as well it shouldn’t. In at least one case the couple had been told their wanted pregnancy was not viable, meaning the baby had died inside, but the mother’s body still thought she was pregnant. The mother can wait for a natural miscarriage, take medication to induce a miscarriage or have a D & C surgical procedure. I have friends who’ve experienced a missed-miscarriage, and I would wish that emotional pain on no one.
Arizona laws should not allow a pharmacist’s personal opinions to dictate which scripts he will or will not fill, over-ruling a physician only to devastate grieving women further, or impede the ongoing process of a transgender woman in completing her transition.
ARS 36-2154 states that pharmacists have the: “Right to refuse to participate in abortion; abortion medication or emergency contraception.”
Right to refuse to participate in abortion; abortion medication or emergency contraception
B. A pharmacy, hospital or health professional, or any employee of a pharmacy, hospital or health professional, who states in writing an objection to abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on moral or religious grounds is not required to facilitate or participate in the provision of an abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum. The pharmacy, hospital or health professional, or an employee of the pharmacy, hospital or health professional, shall return to the patient the patient’s written prescription order
This law is a bad law and must be changed.
In all my research I could find only one incident of a pharmacist refusing to fill a man’s Viagra script, not because the patient might help get a woman pregnant who did not want to get pregnant; it was because it may interfere with the patient’s many heart medications which he was filling at the same time.
The National Women’s Law Center reports that a woman who wants only two children must use contraception for roughly three decades of her life. The Center states that women also rely on prescription contraceptives for a range of other medical purposes such as regulation of cycles and endometriosis.
Arizona should have anti-discrimination laws in place so that every citizen can get the health care and medications they need promptly. Quality health care is a fundamental human right, and nobody should be denied services based on who they are, nor based on a pharmacist’s personal opinions. A pharmacist has a job to do; he is a pharmacist. He is not a doctor, and he is not a moral compass for a drugstore’s customers. If he finds it that difficult to do his job, maybe he should get a job at a church or in another line of work.
I vow to follow in the footsteps of State Senator Katie Hobbs and fight ARS 36-2154, which openly invites discrimination against women when I am elected your State Senator.