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Texas nurse sues CVS after she was fired because she refused to prescribe birth control

The lawsuit filed by J. Robyn Strader said CVS violated her religious rights when she was fired after more than six years on the job.
Credit: CNN

KELLER, Texas — Another nurse has filed a federal lawsuit against CVS after being fired for refusing to prescribe birth control, citing her "Christian faith."

Nurse practitioner J. Robyn Shrader worked at a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas for more than six years, according to the lawsuit filed recently in Fort Worth.

Strader's attorneys said her Baptist beliefs prevent her from prescribing anything that would prevent pregnancy, cause an abortion or contribute to infertility.

The lawsuit said if a customer wanted a prescription for birth control or emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill, Shrader would refer them to another CVS MinuteClinic provider. 

"This arrangement worked well until CVS abruptly announced in August 2021 that it was revoking all religious accommodations that allowed providers to not prescribe these drugs," the lawsuit claimed. 

The complaint said the CVS policy violated Strader's civil rights by refusing her religious accommodation request.

"After accommodating Robyn for six and a half years without a single complaint, CVS fired her because it simply did not like her pro-life religious beliefs," said Christine Pratt, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. "It is illegal to issue a blanket revocation of all religious accommodations when it is so easy for CVS to accommodate its employees. CVS is sending a message that religious health care workers are not welcome and need not apply."

In response to a similar lawsuit filed by a Virginia nurse in 2022, a CVS spokesman said the company tries to accommodate religious beliefs but said sexual health services are an essential part of the job at MinuteClinics.

CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis told CBS MoneyWatch that the company does try to accommodate employees' religious beliefs, but providing sexual and reproductive health services to patients is a fundamental part of working at its walk-in clinics.

"It is not possible ... to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job," DeAngelis said in a statement. "We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions."

CVS and Walgreens recently told CBS MoneyWatch that they intend to sell the abortion drug mifepristone after the FDA reversed a ruling that prevented retail pharmacies from dispensing the medication. But that doesn't include states where abortion is banned and where the demand has been greatest since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

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