On Wednesday, a 35-year-old elementary school teacher and mother walked into her local Walgreens in Peoria, Arizona to have a prescription filled. According to the Arizona Republic, Nicole Arteaga attempted to pick up misoprostol, a drug used for medical abortions, when a pharmacist refused to supply it on the basis of a “moral objection.”
In a Facebook post, Arteaga said she was prescribed the medication after her doctor discovered her “baby’s development had stopped.” She was told her 10-week pregnancy would end in a miscarriage, and was given the option of choosing between a surgical or medical abortion.
Arteaga opted to take the medical route, but the pharmacist she identified as Brian Hreniuc denied her the necessary prescription. “I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist, explaining the situation in front of my 7-year-old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs,” Arteaga wrote her post.
Despite explaining her difficult situation, the pharmacist continued to deny Arteaga the drug. “I left Walgreens in tears,” she wrote, “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.”
Her Facebook post was shared to Twitter and went viral, prompting Walgreens to respond to the incident. As Jezebel points out, the company tweeted that its employees are allowed to opt out of filling prescriptions, but must refer them to another pharmacist or manager—something that didn’t happen in Arteaga’s case. The pharmacist was reportedly well within his rights, as Arizona is one of six states that allows pharmacists to refuse customers medication for religious or “moral” reasons.
“What he failed to understand is this isn’t the situation I had hoped for, this isn’t something I wanted,” Arteaga wrote in her post. “This is something I have zero control over. He has no idea what it’s like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so.”
Regardless of a woman’s backstory, abortion is still legal in the U.S. (for now), and should be accessible to all women, including those in Arteaga’s distressing circumstance.