An Arizona teen has spoken out after she was refused a refill of a life-saving prescription drug within 48 hours of the state abolishing abortions under its new law.
Emma Thompson, 14, has debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis and had been prescribed the immunosuppressant methotrexate to fight the pain and symptoms of her disease.
The Tucson native was refused a refill of the drug after Arizona rolled out its new law against abortions on 24 September, on the basis that the drug can also be used to end ectopic pregnancies.
“My entire life I was in and out of the hospital,” Emma told KOLD News. “I was never able to stay in school until this past year, I was never able to ride a bike or get on the monkey bars like other kids could.”
She said the pharmacy “didn’t look at my history” and “just denied my prescription because of my age”.
“It’s not right. They’re trying to make any girl who’s on this medication drop a pregnancy test when they get their medicine, and I feel like it’s really unfair,” she added.
“I couldn’t do a lot of things that other kids could do when I was a kid, and I don’t want any other little girls to have to go through that because of the new abortion law,” Emma told KOLD.
Emma’s doctor, Deborah Jane Power, took to Twitter in a post that has since gone viral, saying the teen was denied the drug on the grounds of her gender.
“Welcome to AZ. Today a pharmacist denied the MTX refill for my adolescent patient. She’s on 5 mg/wk to prevent AHCA Ab production. MTX denied purely because she’s a female, barely a teenager. Livid! No discussion, just a denial. Now to fight for what’s best for this pt (sic),” Dr Power wrote on Twitter.
She added that Emma was her first paediatric patient to be denied her medication on these grounds, according to a report by KOLD news.
“My 25 years as a physician, what I’ve learned, what I’ve trained, all the extra hours of study, is just being tossed away by lawmakers,” Dr Power told KOLD. “For some patients, it’s incredibly serious, it’s the medication that’s keeping their disease under control.”
The doctor told the local TV station that the teenager had worked a lot over years to get her pain to a “totally manageable” stage and she was now able to attend school as a result.
Arizona banned almost all abortions last month under the new law, which prohibits people from seeking medical termination of their pregnancy after the 15th week.
Emma’s mother also spoke to KOLD about the improvements her daughter had seen with the drug, and how the family is now worried about having to look for alternative medication.
“It’s her first year and she’s in high school and it feels like a dream. She’s not in a wheelchair, she has a social life and friends for the first time and a life all young people should have,” the mother said.
She said that even a wait of 24 hours between the drug being denied and a new prescription getting approved was a source of anxiety for the family.
“I was scared, I was really scared,” she said. “I’m like if they deny this then we’ll have to find a different medication and we don’t know if it’s going to work.”
The teenager’s doctor said that her concern lies with pharmacists who did not want to risk finding themselves in a battle between the state and people seeking the drug.
She added that the pharmacist chose to not refill the drug because it can be used for an abortion.
The report added that the pharmacy which denied the drug said that its focus lies in providing medicines in compliance with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations.