CVS has fired an Arizona pharmacist after he refused to fill a transgender woman’s prescription for hormone medication, the company announced Friday.
The company also issued an apology to the woman, saying the pharmacist’s action “does not reflect our values or our commitment to inclusion, nondiscrimination and the delivery of outstanding patient care.”
Hilde Hall wrote about her experience at the Fountain Hills CVS in a blog post for the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday, stating the unidentified pharmacist in April had refused to fill the first hormone prescription she had been issued by her doctor.
“I was finally going to start seeing my body reflect my gender identity and the woman I’ve always known myself to be,” she wrote.
But instead of filling the prescription, Hall said the pharmacist instead questioned her, “loudly and in front of other CVS staff and customers,” about why she was given the prescription.
“He did not give me a clear reason for the refusal,” she wrote. “Embarrassed and distressed, I nearly started crying in the middle of the store. I didn't want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor. I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers.”
The pharmacist also refused to hand Hall the prescription back, and refused her doctor’s office’s direct requests to dispense the prescription, forcing her to go to a Walgreens to have the prescription filled.
On Friday, CVS issued a statement on Twitter, stating the pharmacist was no longer employed by the company.
Steve Kilar, spokesperson for the ACLU of Arizona, told BuzzFeed News Hall spoke with a representative of CVS Friday, and she was appreciative of the apology.
“Of course, she was disappointed it took her to go public with her story to get the resolution that she wanted,” he said.
It was the second time this week CVS has landed in controversy over the actions of its employees.
Two CVS employees were fired earlier this week after they called police on a black woman in Chicago, accusing her of using a fake coupon.
On Monday, the pharmacy chain issued an apology for that incident, and made a similar statement, saying that the company “does not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any customer and we are committed to maintaining a welcoming and diverse environment in our stores.”
Arizona is one of six states in the US where it is legal for pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions related to contraception on moral or religious grounds.
The incident at the Fountain Hills CVS is the second time in as many months that reports have surfaced of a pharmacist in the state refusing to fill a prescription due to their own religious or moral beliefs.
In June, a Walgreens pharmacist in Peoria, Arizona, denied a woman's prescription to end her pregnancy. Nicole Arteaga, a schoolteacher who was nine weeks pregnant, had been given the prescription by her doctor after they discovered her baby had stopped growing and had no heartbeat.
“I asked him why he wouldn't sell it to me, and he said it was his ethics,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Walgreens stood by the pharmacist’s objections, stating the company allows its pharmacists to “step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection.”
A CVS spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that in the case of a moral or religious objection by the pharmacist, the company has policies in place in order to accommodate state laws, the pharmacist, and make sure patients can still get their prescriptions.
“In such instances, the pharmacist is required to notify us in advance about such a religious conviction, so that we can ensure there are other arrangements in place to ensure the patient’s medication needs are promptly satisfied,” Michael DeAngelis, said.
CVS did not immediately say whether the pharmacist notified the company of his beliefs.