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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Meijer changes its policies for pharmacists after ACLU complaint

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ACLU of Michigan

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced today that it has negotiated a new policy and training program with Meijer for its pharmacists.

The agreement came after the ACLU wrote a letter of complaint to Meijer on October 16, 2018 about a Meijer pharmacist in Petoskey who refused to fill Rachel Peterson's prescription on religious grounds.

According to the letter, the pharmacist "proclaimed that 'as a good Catholic male,' he could not 'in good conscience fill the prescription' because he believed it was her intention to use it to end a pregancy. "

According to the ACLU, the pharmacist refused to call another pharmacist or to transfer  to another pharmacy the prescription, which was necessary to take in a timely manner to treat Peterson's miscarriage.

The ACLU said under the new policy, if a Meijer pharmacist has a religious objection to filling a prescription, another Meijer pharmacist must fill it. In the rare instance that a second pharmacist is not present, the on-duty pharmacist will call the prescription into another nearby Meijer pharmacy, which will immediately deliver it to the original pharmacy. Customers will not have to go to another location, and they are to receive their prescriptions without knowing that a pharmacist had an objection.

"We appreciate Meijer's swift response to our complaint," said Merissa Kovach, ACLU of Michigan's Policy Strategist. "They changed their training and policies to ensure that all future Meijer Pharmacy customers will recieve their prescriptions, period."

Peterson said the Meijer Vice President of Pharmacy called her this week to apologize for the mistreatment she experienced and to explain the company's new policies and training programs. 

"My goal is to make sure no one has to endure the humiliation and horror I went through last year, "said Peterson. "This new policy sets a precedent and puts other pharmacies on notice: everyone has a right to their medication, and to receive it free from judgment."

Meijer did not reply to a request for comment.

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