A jury in Atkins County, Minnesota, found Friday that a pharmacy did not discriminate against a woman by refusing to fill her emergency contraception prescription, court records show.
However, the jury found that the pharmacist had caused the woman emotional harm in the amount of $25,000.
According to the original complaint, Andrea Anderson, a mother and licensed foster parent, was given a prescription for Ella — also known as the “morning after pill” or emergency contraception — in January 2019 after her regular birth control failed.
Her doctor sent the prescription to McGregor Thrifty White pharmacy, but the pharmacist on duty, George Badeaux, told Anderson he would not be able to fulfill her prescription because of his “beliefs.”
Badeaux “did not clarify what his beliefs were or why they stood in the way of him performing his work as a medical professional,” the complaint said.
Anderson eventually found a pharmacy willing to dispense her prescription — after driving more than 100 miles round trip in a snowstorm, the complaint said.
Badeaux’s attorney, Charles Shreffler, said in a statement that he and his client were “incredibly happy with the jury’s decision.”
“Medical professionals should have the freedom to practice their profession in accordance with their beliefs,” the statement said. “Mr. Badeaux cannot participate in a procedure that requires him to dispense drugs that have the potential to end an innocent human life in the womb. Every American should have the freedom to act according to his ethical and religious beliefs. Doctors , pharmacists and other medical providers are no different.”
CNN has reached out to attorneys at Thrifty White pharmacy for comment.
Gender Justice, the advocacy group Anderson represents, had argued that refusing services to Anderson based on her reproductive health care needs was illegal sex discrimination and a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The group said it would appeal the jury’s decision to the state appeals court.
“To be clear, Minnesota law prohibits gender discrimination and that includes refusing to fill emergency contraception prescriptions,” said Jess Braverman, legal director of Gender Justice. “The jury didn’t decide what the law is, they decided on the facts of what happened here in this particular case. We will appeal this decision and will not stop fighting until Minnesotans can get the health care they need without the intervention of health care providers who value their own personal beliefs over their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”
Since a major pharmaceutical business deal in 2017, the so-called morning-after pill has become America’s most widely used over-the-counter emergency contraception.
Since the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, there have been concerns that some forms of birth control will not be available, and the demand for long-term and emergency contraception, including the morning after pill, has increased.