MANASSAS, Va. (WFLA) — A Virginia nurse practitioner is suing CVS Health after being fired for refusing to provide drugs that can induce abortions. The nurse, Paige Casey, declined to provide those prescriptions due to a conflict with her Catholic beliefs, according to the Alliance for Defending Freedom. ADF is representing her in the lawsuit.
Casey worked for MinuteClinic, a subsidiary of CVS Health, from 2018 to 2022. According to the lawsuit filing, Casey’s “religious convictions against prescribing or administering abortion-causing drugs” were respected and accommodated from 2018 to 2021.
The court file said Casey had never received complaints or been involved in incidents over the refusal to fill those prescriptions, but MinuteClinic “abruptly stopped respecting” her religious beliefs in December 2021. In April, she was fired for refusing to prescribe abortifacients. As a result, Casey is suing MinuteClinic for violating provisions of the Virginia statutes’ Conscience Clause.
The statute in Virginia specifically states that state law cannot “require a hospital or other medical facility or physician to admit any patient under the provisions hereof for the purpose of performing an abortion.”
As written, the statute includes additional statements that “any person who shall state in writing an objection to any abortion or all abortions on personal, ethical, moral or religious grounds shall not be required to participate in procedures which will result in such abortion.”
Refusal of an employee, hospital, or medical facility to participate in a process that results in an abortion cannot be used in a claim for damages for that refusal, nor can an employee face “disciplinary or recriminatory action,’ for those refusals, including being denied employment.
On the surface, the Conscience Clause appears to cover Casey’s objections. ADF’s statement on the lawsuit says as much, describing the situation as “the health clinic illegally fired her [Casey] for declining to provide abortion-inducing drugs to customers in keeping with her religious beliefs.”
However, in response to a WFLA.com inquiry on the lawsuit, a spokesman for CVS Health MinuteClinic can prescribe hormonal contraception or birth control, but not abortion-inducing medications, also called abortifacients.
In a statement provided by the company, Mike DeAngelis, CVS Health’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, said there was a process for accommodation.
We have a well-defined process in place for employees to request and be granted a reasonable accommodation due to their religious beliefs, which in some cases can be an exemption from performing certain job functions. It is not possible, however, to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job. MinuteClinic does not provide abortion care or services, but educating and treating patients regarding sexual health matters – including pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infection prevention, screening and treatment, and safer sex practices – have become essential job functions of our providers and nurses. We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions unless we are required to do so under certain state laws.Statement from Mike DeAngelis, CVS Health
ADF, in its statement about Casey’s court filing, said the prescriptions Casey objected to filling included “certain hormonal contraceptives, Plan B, and Ella.” The law firm noted Casey’s religious beliefs were accommodated for three and a half years.
When asked for clarification on the policy change, based on the timing described in Casey’s lawsuit, DeAngelis said, “The 2021 change was part of the continual enhancement of MinuteClinic’s services, which has grown from providing urgent care to offering more holistic care, including sexual health.”