George Badeaux, a veteran pharmacist is now on trial for violating the civil rights of a mother of five by refusing to fill her prescription for an emergency contraceptive pill. This case seems to be the first of its type in the country.
According to a civil case that was filed in January 2019 under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Andrea Anderson sought the morning-after pill Ella at the lone drugstore in her hometown of McGregor, after a broken condom occurred during sexual activity.
Per the lawsuit, “She did not waste any time in searching for an emergency contraceptive because every delay in doing so increases the danger of becoming pregnant.” However, Badeaux, who had worked at the McGregor Thrifty White pharmacy for decades, refused to fill Anderson’s prescription on the grounds that doing so would go against his “beliefs.”
Badeaux told her that there would be another pharmacist working the following day, and that this person might be willing to fill the prescription for the medication. However, he could not guarantee that this person would be of assistance.
According to the lawsuit, he also cautioned Anderson not to try to get the prescription filled at a Shopko drugstore in a nearby town, and he refused to tell her where else she might go to get her prescription filled, despite the fact that the state law requires him to do so.
Anderson was prevented from getting the prescription filled at a CVS in the city of Aitkin by one of the other pharmacists working there. According to the complaint, she ended up driving 100 miles to get the prescription filled at the Walgreens in Brainerd. This occurred “as a big snowfall was approaching central Minnesota.”
Anderson is suing Badeaux and the pharmacy where he works for an injunction to force them to comply with state law, which forbids discrimination based on sex, including difficulties linked to pregnancy and delivery. Anderson is also seeking damages that have not been defined.
The once-dormant debate over birth control was rekindled after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and by prominent lawmakers like Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who openly questioned the constitutionality of birth control. The jury selection for the Badeaux trial started on Monday, and it comes at a time when the debate has been reignited.
The bill that would allow the right to contraception under federal law was approved by the House of Representatives last week.
Anderson is being defended in court by attorneys from the St. Paul office of Gender Justice, which is located in the state of Minnesota. According to a spokesperson for the organization, the Anderson case looks to be the first one in the country to be taken to trial by a woman who was denied access to contraceptives.
Anderson’s legal action first named CVS as a party to be sued in the case. The documents filed with the court show that Anderson claimed that after she was rejected by Badeaux, she called the CVS in Aitkin, where a female technician informed her that she couldn’t fill her Ella prescription and falsely told her that she wouldn’t be able to get it filled in Brainerd, either.
However, Anderson and CVS were able to strike a settlement prior to the case going to trial, and she was awarded compensation of some kind. After Anderson had her prescription filled, she contacted the Thrifty White pharmacy to lodge a complaint with the proprietor, Matt Hutera, over the manner in which Badeaux had dealt with her.
The documents also showed that Badeaux had disregarded at least three additional requests to fill prescriptions for contraceptives because he was under the impression that such medications resulted in abortions. He stated that he was opposed to distributing Ella because he believed that it presented a risk of preventing a fertilized egg from successfully implanting in the uterus.
In a document that he submitted to the court, he stated that “it is comparable to taking all the care of a newborn infant by tossing it out the backdoor into the woods.”
But Ella doesn’t induce abortions. This is because, according to the manufacturer, taking this medication as directed within five days of engaging in sexual activity without protection makes it possible for a woman to avoid becoming pregnant in the first place and is available only as a prescription medicine.
Anderson’s lawyers said in their complaint that “if an individual is already pregnant, meaning that a fertilized egg has implanted in their uterus, emergency contraceptives will not stop or harm the pregnancy.”
The ruling has already been made by the district judge for Aitkin County, David Hermerding, that Badeaux will not be permitted to bring up federal constitutional concerns such as freedom of religion during the trial.
“The issue for the jury is not the defendant’s constitutional rights.” The judge had written: “The question is whether he intentionally deceived, obstructed, and prevented Ms. Anderson from receiving Ella.” However, Badeaux will be permitted to explain his beliefs to the jury.