A jury has found that a Minnesota pharmacist did not engage in illegal sex discrimination by refusing to fill a prescription for emergency contraception.
The Aitkin County jury pronounced its verdict Friday, just four days after a lawsuit filed by Gender Justice on behalf of foster mom Andrea Anderson proceeded to trial.
Anderson filed her lawsuit in 2019 after George Badeaux, the pharmacist on duty at Thrifty White Pharmacy in McGregor, Minn. (since renamed to McGregor Pharmacy), refused to fill her prescription for emergency contraception because of his Christian beliefs.
According to the verdict, the jurors determined Anderson failed to prove that Thrifty White Pharmacy and Badeaux “intentionally refused to do business with her because of her sex.”
The jurors also determined Badeaux did not “intentionally aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce Thrifty White to engage in discrimination in public accommodations.”
Despite finding no discrimination, the jury sided with Anderson’s claim that Badeaux’s personal refusal to fill the prescription caused her “emotional harm,” though it did not find this applicable to the pharmacy itself. As a result, Badeaux must now pay Anderson $25,000 compensation.
Nevertheless, Gender Justice vowed to appeal the jury’s discrimination decision in a Friday press release.
“To be clear, the law in Minnesota prohibits sex discrimination and that includes refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception,” said Jess Braverman, the group’s legal director. “We will appeal this decision and won’t stop fighting until Minnesotans can get the health care they need without the interference of providers putting their own personal beliefs ahead of their legal and ethical obligations to their patients.”
Anderson said in her own statement that she “can’t help but wonder about the other women who may be turned away,” citing her experience of driving over 100 miles round trip during a snowstorm to get her prescription filled at a Walgreens in Brainerd.
“I can only hope that by coming forward and pursuing justice that others don’t have to jump through the ridiculous hurdles I did,” she said.