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Opinion

Readers React: A religious pharmacist shouldn’t stand between a woman and her prescribed medication

The Walgreens where Nicole Arteaga was allegedly refused service by a Walgreens pharmacist who denie
The Walgreens in Peoria, Ariz., where a woman says she was refused service by a pharmacist.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

To the editor: David Lazarus certainly has the right idea in criticizing the Walgreens pharmacist in Arizona who refused to fill a woman’s prescription meant to induce a miscarriage. But I can’t find anything in Title XII of the Civil Rights Act that requires that the customer be inconvenienced to “reasonably accommodate an employee or prospective employee’s religious observation or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employee’s business.”

If the pharmacist wants to employ his or her religious objection to refuse to dispense a lawfully written prescription, it should be the pharmacist who is inconvenienced.

Walgreen’s should schedule a shift for the pharmacist elsewhere and schedule another pharmacist willing to dispense the medication within 24 hours so as to minimize the hardship for the patient.

Emery Galambos, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I have a question for the Walgreens worker who refused, for religious reasons, to fill this woman’s prescription: Do you require a man to produce his marriage license before you fill a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication?

I wonder how often this pharmacist’s personal religious beliefs get involved in judging his customers’ personal lives and private medical decisions. Perhaps he should investigate another line of work that doesn’t pose these moral dilemmas.

Mary Freeman, Pasadena

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To the editor: Lazarus suggests that the pharmacist might want to consider changing careers to avoid such conflicts with his religious convictions. He likens the pharmacist to someone who believes the Earth is flat, a man who thinks a woman should not hold a paying job, or a woman holding Earth Goddess beliefs.

Could Lazarus possibly be any more smug or condescending? Why does he have to be such a pill?

Gerry Swider, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: I believe that people have the right not to perform services or sell products that violate their conscience, but this should not block the consumer’s right to lawful services.

Walgreens should make sure that if one of its employees believes he or she cannot fill a prescription or provide a service, someone else on site needs to be able to do what has been asked by a customer. The woman whose prescription was refused should not have had to visit another store if the medication was available at the first one.

I support the pharmacist’s right not to fill the prescription, but if Walgreens chooses to carry the medication, it needs to ensure that someone can fill it. What if the customer had gone to the next Walgreens and the pharmacist there had the same conviction?

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Derek Engdahl, Pomona

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