If mourning the loss of her unborn child wasn't terrible enough, 35-year-old Rachel Peterson had to get medication to help with her miscarriage, or else she would require invasive surgery.
This devastating news was what led Rachel and her husband, Robby, to drive three hours away from their hometown in Ionia, Michigan to find some peace during this difficult period in their lives.
Rachel's doctor prescribed her misoprostol, a drug commonly used to induce labor. In her case, it would help her have a miscarriage, since an ultrasound revealed that the fetus no longer had a heartbeat.
“It was conveyed to me by my doctor that if things hadn’t progressed in the next couple of days, that I was instructed to start the medication,” she told the NY Times.
Rachel was about to pick up her medication at a Meijer pharmacy in Petoskey (northern Michigan) when she received a call from a pharmacist that shook her to the core.
“When you’re at one of the lowest moments in your life, you don’t expect this sort of demeaning treatment."
Rachel says the pharmacist told her that "as a good Catholic male he could not in good conscience fill this medication."
She explained to the man that it was important for her to get this medication, but he didn't believe her because he "couldn't support an abortion."
Rachel's requests to speak to another pharmacist or a manager was also denied.
“I wanted a baby; I didn’t want to lose a baby,” she said. “I felt ashamed, and I didn’t have to tell him that information but I thought, for my safety, to be able to have children again, this was an important step to take. And he denied that to me.”
Rachel immediately called her mother, Nancy Bianchi, during this stressful time.
"She called me sobbing, just sobbing, and said he wouldn’t fill the prescription," Nancy said, according to Detroit Free Press.
As any concerned mother would do, Nancy called the pharmacist herself, and went off on the man who allegedly denied Rachel's medication:
"A medically licensed doctor gave you a prescription to fill, and you have absolutely no right. ... If you, who call yourself a Christian, decided that you could not do this, then you needed to pass it off, as the law states, to somebody that could fill it."
In a desperate situation, and clearly frustrated by the whole ordeal, Rachel got in touch with the Meijer pharmacy in her hometown, who helped fill her prescription.
She and her husband were forced to go back home early, where Rachel reported the incident and filed a complaint to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
"I think it’s very clear in this case that had Rachel been a man seeking this exact same medication for stomach ulcers, she wouldn’t have been turned away for the same reason," Merissa Kovach, a policy strategist for the Union said.
"So Rachel was denied this based on the personal beliefs of this pharmacist and then also because she’s a woman."
Although Michigan doesn't have an explicit law that can protect people like Rachel, Merissa argued that "any customer should be able to expect the same service regardless of who they are and what their prescription is."
Christina Fecher, a spokeswoman for Meijer, said in a statement that the man who allegedly denied Rachel her medication has been terminated.
“While we cannot comment on any pharmacy customer matter, we apologize for any customer experience that does not align with our core values.”