Meijer pharmacist refuses medication to woman on religious grounds, says ACLU
A Meijer pharmacist in Petoskey refused for religious reasons to fill a customer's prescription that was medically necessary to treat her miscarriage, according to a letter of complaint filed yesterday with Meijer by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan on behalf of the customer.
The letter says the pharmacist, Richard Kalkman, also refused to let the customer, Rachel Peterson, talk to another Meijer pharmacist or transfer her prescription to another pharmacy.
The ACLU's letter says Kalkman stated that "as a good Catholic male," he could not "in good conscience fill the prescription" because he believed it was Peterson's intention to end a pregnancy. When Peterson told him her OB/GYN found no signs of viability from the fetus, Kalkman said he did not believe her, according to the letter.
"She should have not been met with someone who demeaned and humiliated her and then refused to give her her medicine," said Merissa Kovach, policy strategist for the ACLU of Michigan.
"All customers should expect the same service regardless of who they are or what their prescription is," Kovach said, "And she should have been able to expect the same standard of care as any other patient."
"We want Meijer to implement a policy to ensure that all customers in the future receive their medicine without undue delay, regardless of what the personal beliefs are of their pharmacists," said Kovach.
Kovach said Meijer also should have specific employee training and signs for customers about the policy.
In a written statement, Meijer said it has investigated the incident, but would not comment because of health privacy laws.
The company said it does allow a pharmacist to decline to fill a prescription based on religious beliefs, but the pharmacist must get it filled by another Meijer pharmacist in the store, and if none is available, by another pharmacy that is convenient to the customer.