‘It’s not right’: Teen denied vital medication due to abortion ban speaks about her experience

A 14-year-old girl initially denied medication because of Arizona's abortion law speaks out. (Source: KOLD)
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 8:33 AM CDT
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TUSCON, Ariz. (KOLD/Gray News) - Fourteen-year-old Emma Thompson was denied her medication in Arizona because of the state’s newly approved abortion law, which prohibits abortions except to save the life of the mother.

She takes the medication for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, KOLD reports.

Emma’s doctor, Dr. Deborah Jane Power, said some women in their 30′s have also been denied methotrexate until they proved they are taking contraception that is proven effective.

Methotrexate is a common drug used to control rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus and other autoimmune deficiencies.

It is also used to induce abortions due to ectopic pregnancy, which can be fatal. For that reason, her doctor believes, Emma was denied her medication even though she had been getting it for years without incident.

“My entire life, I was in and out of the hospital,” Emma said. “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.”

It took years for Emma and her doctor to come up with the right combination of drugs to control her illness and pain to the point she could live a normal life.

Her mother said she was upset and concerned when she was not able to pick up her daughter’s medicine.

“I was in tears, I was scared,” Emma’s mother Kaitlin Preble said. “I have a huge paranoia of my daughter going backwards to where she used to be, and that makes me really nervous.”

Walgreens filled the prescription 24 hours after notifying the family that they would need the doctor’s permission before it could be filled, even though it had been refilled many times in the past.

This happened two days after the new abortion law took effect, and there was likely some concern on the part of the pharmacist about repercussions. The law said anyone who aids or assists in an abortion can face two to five years in prison.

“The pharmacist didn’t look at my history,” Emma said. “She just denied my prescription because of my age.”

“It’s not right,” she said. “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.”

The doctor was not notified before the refill was approved.

For doctors, the concern is if the women don’t have a strong advocate or put up a fight, they could be denied life-saving medication.

“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,” Power said. “For some patients, it’s incredibly serious. It’s the medication that’s keeping their disease under control.”