AITKIN, MINN. — More than three years after a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception for Andrea Anderson, she found herself in a courtroom being quizzed by attorneys about her sex life, her mental health and her reproductive organs.
"My therapy records are public information now," Anderson said Tuesday during more than two hours of testimony in Aitkin County District Court. "I feel very exposed.
"I'm hoping that no pharmacist will ever be able to do this to anybody again."
Anderson, of McGregor, Minn., is suing pharmacist George Badeaux and her local pharmacy under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, claiming they discriminated against her because of her sex.
In January 2019, after a condom broke during sex with her partner of more than a decade, Anderson got a prescription for Ella, an emergency contraceptive. According to a report filed with the court by an expert witness, Ella is not an abortion pill, but works by delaying or preventing ovulation during the menstrual cycle in which it's taken, and it is more effective when taken soon after intercourse.
Badeaux, a pharmacist for nearly 40 years and then-manager of the Thrifty White in McGregor, told Anderson that he couldn't fill the prescription because of his beliefs, according to court documents.
Anderson unsuccessfully tried to get the prescription filled at a CVS drugstore in Aitkin before finally getting her medication at a Walgreens in Brainerd, making a round trip of more than 100 miles.
During her attempts to get Ella, "I felt like I was being watched and judged," she testified. "I was asking for a medication that someone had already made me feel awful about wanting and needing."
Attorneys for Badeaux and Thrifty White fought successfully to get Anderson's therapy records introduced as evidence, then questioned Anderson at length about her efforts in therapy to deal with anger issues.
Attorneys on both sides also quizzed her about her sex life, which she testified has been affected by the incident. There was also discussion of Anderson's endometriosis, a medical condition in which the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. It can lead to painful cysts and scar tissue, according to Mayo Clinic.
Earlier in the day, the civil jury heard testimony from Kelly Cleland, executive director of the American Society for Emergency Contraception. Cleland, who holds a master's degree in public health, testified that current medical consensus holds that pregnancy begins not when an egg is fertilized but only after it's implanted in the wall of the uterus.
In court filings, Badeaux testified that he believes life begins at fertilization. He said he has seen research indicating that Ella could possibly cause changes to the uterine lining that could affect whether a fertilized egg could implant and grow.
In her testimony, Cleland called that view "speculative and hypothetical."
Badeaux had said in a deposition that in his opinion, interfering with implantation would be "similar to removing all care from a newborn child by throwing it out the back door into the woods."
Testimony in the case continues Wednesday.