Walgreens Pharmacist Who Declined to Fill a Woman’s Abortion Prescription is Attacked Online

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A pro life Walgreens pharmacist in Pearia, Arizona has recently come under an extraordinary amount of vitriol online because he opted out of filling a woman’s abortion prescription. The woman whose abortion prescription he declined to fill shared the pharmacist, Brian Hreniuc’s contact information prominently in an online Facebook “complaint.” The Facebook post went viral. In it, the woman, Nicole Arteaga described that she was two months pregnant with a baby that she and her husband were eagerly anticipating. However, when Nicole went in for a doctor visit, she was faced with some bad news. Doctors told her the baby’s development had stopped and that the end result would be an eventual miscarriage. The doctor said she had two options; have an abortion, or use abortion-inducing medication. Nicole opted for the latter.

According to Nicole, the doctor wrote her a prescription for the abortion drugs and sent it to Walgreens. But allegedly, the pharmacist there refused to fill the prescription. Hreniuc explained to Nicole that he had moral and ethical reasons behind his refusal, and he did send her prescription to another Walgreens that filled it for her.

A Walgreens spokesperson gave KVOA News the following statement:

“After learning what happened, we reached out to the patient and apologized for how the situation was handled. To respect the sincerely held beliefs of our pharmacists while at the same time meeting the needs of our patients, our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our patients’ needs are handled properly.”

The pharmacist did not violate any laws, and his actions are protected by Arizona law, which states that, “A pharmacy, hospital or health professional, or any employee of a pharmacy, hospital or health professional, who states in writing an objection to abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on moral or religious grounds is not required to facilitate or participate in the provision of an abortion, abortion medication, emergency contraception or any medication or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum…”

Arteaga still revealed that she filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, according to Lifenews. However, the situation has left Hreniuc with a target on his back. The New York Times, the BBC, Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed and other news outlets are trying to destroy him and his career because he followed his conscience.

(9) Comments

  1. The woman had a valid prescription for a legitament reason. As a woman who has unfortunately had multiple miscarriages, it’s traumatic enough an experience and this woman didn’t need to have this embarrassing and humiliating experience She was with her 7 year old child in line trying to explain to the pharmacist what was going on. That shouldn’t have happened.

    • Welcome to the “Christian” version of the Taliban. Misogyny disguised as conscience is promoted while denying women the same self determination as men, where it is assumed women must relent to the supposed superior morality of male-dominated religious dogma and spurious laws. When keeping women “barefoot and pregnant” no longer holds rational sway, the same repressive attitudes war against individual female freedom. Yet, despite common medical sense and compassion, a man usurped a woman’s inalienable right to equality of self. What are men so afraid of–losing their control, their domination, their free rein to bully women who don’t want or need a man to tell them what is right or wrong? We can make our own choices–right for us. We don’t need to be bent to religious demagoguery. And, we will resist efforts to do so. The woman was denied and humiliated by a man in a society where the presumed superiority of men and ignorant interpretations of God’s will are becoming moribund. (Ever ponder why women were not invited to the biblical rule-writing party? Why there’s no female popes?) How is it that a man who decides a woman’s sexual fate is any different in his thinking than a rapist? We are not a harem, nor waitresses at the banquet of life!

      • Who is trying to punish who for their sincerely held beliefs? Christians do not want to participate in abortions. Yet you want to force them to participate. And if they don’t participate, those who disagree promise to destroy their careers. And yet you call Christians equal to the Taliban, a religious group that stones women in public for breaking their moral rules. Who is figuratively stoning who here?

        • Who IS indeed punishing whom? You are attempting to punish those with opposing beliefs. No one is forcing Christians (there are plenty who do believe in choice who are Christian) to participate. You force your participation into something that is none of your business. We protest your treatment of us and get blamed (attempted shaming) for the consequences. Did you think we would simply acquiesce? (Walgreens allows “Christian” options that don’t include religious bullying, that exclude the loud, boastful chastising.) There’s virtual stoning and real stoning. So, leave the over-dramatizing alone, it’s a meaningless comparison and you know that. Your purported religion of “love” has been self-righteously, harshly condeming women for a host of things, justifying it with sanctimonious edicts illogically based in false self-serving suppositions that are excuses to d0minate and diminish others, including any religion in disagreement, and bend them to demagoguery. Your religous beliefs do not supercede mine. You do not possess the right to systematically demean women by postulating your moral superiority any more than Scientology does. While I am every bit the Christian as you (studied the Bible in college among my personal exploration of religion), people with your mentality have made me ashamed to call myself one, and examine others as a respite from the judgemental, uncompassionate, rigidly male-centric dogma. Don’t presume your conscience precludes mine. For all you know, God is on my side. That concept must knot your knickers.

  2. What an incredibly dishonest description of the situation. It was a DEAD FETUS. The pharmacist had no business questioning this woman.

      • How is it speculation when you even say yourself the doctor had said development had stopped and would lead to eventual miscarriage? The part that YOU left out is that waiting would put her at serious risk of infection and could possibly be deadly, so taking this medication was potential live-saving. And shouldn’t a pro-life person want to save the life that is viable? No one should be forced to impose their religion on another person. If an Orthodox Jewish man is sat next to a woman on an airplane, he is the one that needs to move or suck it up, not make her move. I know religious types hate to hear that, but a person’s human dignity comes before one’s own personal morality – especially when you don’t know the person. This is why I firmly believe same-sex couples should be served wedding cakes.. It is not our place to judge people for who they are. They have their own religion, many gay people are also Christian. And if we start judging others, how is that in Christ? Christ/God wants us to love our neighbor. He wants us to accept foreigners as our own. He wants us to forgive and spread love. I have never been more disappointing in the direction of America, or the direction of Christianity. And examples like this, where someone’s LIFE is put in danger, is an example of just how far we have fallen. GOD would not want us to let a person die just because we are judging them!

        • JD well said… very good points… dare I say it? I dare: Amen brother! Nice to know there are others who are speaking up and taking action. Speak truth to power. What the pharmacist should have said: ” [Manager or other person in pharmacy] will help you.” And if he’s half the Christian he claims to be, he would have added: “I’m sorry for your loss.” After all, wasn’t it God’s will? We don’t know His plan. The woman’s situation was part of a bigger picture that we muddle-brained humans are powerless to understand. That’s where faith comes in–not arrogant judgement that supposed God wasn’t in the woman’s heart. Going on the premise that God is our father, inserting one’s self into the situation is tantamount to interrupting a private conversation with God. I try to follow my own creed: Seek truth. Practice compassion. (Not that I am successful 100% of the time.)

  3. All the pharmacist would have had to say was “I’m sorry, we don’t keep this medication in stock but I can send this to [other Walgreens] who can fill it for you”. But no, that wouldn’t have given him the chance to impose his ‘conscience’ and beliefs on the poor woman who was already suffering enough.


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