An Arizona teenager has spoken out after being denied refills for a life-saving prescription drug within 48 hours of the state abolishing abortion under its new law.
Emma Thompson, 14, has debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis and was prescribed the immunosuppressant methotrexate to combat the pain and symptoms of her disease.
The Tucson native was denied a refill of the drug after Arizona rolled out its new anti-abortion law on September 24, on the grounds that the drug can also be used to terminate ectopic pregnancies.
“My whole life I was in and out of the hospital,” Emma told KOLD News. “I was never able to stay in school until last year, I was never able to ride my bike or ride the monkey bars like the other kids could.”
She said the pharmacy “didn’t look at my background” and “just declined my prescription because of my age.”
“That’s not true. They try to make any girl who takes this medicine give up a pregnancy test when she gets her medicine, and I feel like that’s really unfair,” a- she added.
“I couldn’t do a lot of the things that other kids could do when I was a kid, and I don’t want other little girls to have to go through that because of the new abortion law,” said Emma at KOLD.
Emma’s doctor, Deborah Jane Power, took to Twitter in a post that has since gone viral, claiming the teenager was denied drugs because of her gender.
“Welcome to AZ. Today a pharmacist refused MTX refill for my teenage patient. She is taking 5mg/week to prevent the production of AHCA antibodies. MTX denied just because she is female , barely a teenager. Livid! No discussion, just denial. Now we gotta fight for what’s best for this pt (sic)”, Dr Power wrote on Twitter.
She added that Emma was her first pediatric patient to be denied medication on these grounds, according to a report by KOLD News.
“My 25 years as a doctor, what I’ve learned, what I’ve trained, all the extra study hours, are just thrown away by lawmakers,” Dr. Power told KOLD. “For some patients it’s incredibly serious, it’s the drug that controls their disease.”
The doctor told the local TV station that the teenager had worked hard over the years to bring her pain to a “totally manageable” stage and was now able to go to school.
Arizona banned nearly 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 has seen with the medication and how the family is now worried about having to look for alternative medications.
“It’s her freshman year and she’s in high school and it’s like a dream. She is not in a wheelchair, she has a social life and friends for the first time and a life that all young people should have,” the mum said.
She said even a 24-hour wait between the drug being refused and a new prescription being approved was a source of anxiety for the family.
“I was scared, I was really scared,” she said. “I think if they deny this we will have to find another drug and we don’t know if it will work.”
The teenager’s doctor said his concern was for pharmacists who did not want to risk ending up in a battle between the state and those seeking the drug.
She added that the pharmacist chose not to renew the drug because it can be used for an abortion.
The report adds that the pharmacy that denied the drug said its goal was to provide drugs that comply with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations.