A nurse practitioner from Northern Virginia has filed a lawsuit against CVS after the pharmacy chain allegedly fired her for refusing to distribute contraceptives and abortifacients.
Paige Casey, a Roman Catholic, filed the suit Wednesday in the Virginia Circuit Court for the County of Prince William. Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Casey is claiming CVS violated Virginia’s Conscience Clause, which stipulates medical personnel cannot be fired or reprimanded if they “state in writing an objection to any abortion or all abortions on personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds.”
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According to the ADF’s legal filing, the pharmacy wrongfully denied Casey’s request for an exemption on religious grounds to the chain’s MinuteClinic policy requiring staffers to distribute contraceptives as well as abortion-inducing drugs — also known as abortifacients — to patients.
Denise Harle, senior counsel for the ADF, said in a statement that corporations like CVS “cannot defy the law by firing professionals who want to work consistently with their faith.”
“Paige had a spotless record of caring for patients, yet CVS decided to abruptly fire her, solely because of her religious belief that life begins at conception,” she continued. “Virginia law protects the freedom of everyone to work without fear of being fired for their religious beliefs prohibiting participation in abortion.”
Casey worked for CVS’ MinuteClinic since 2018, primarily at one of the pharmacy’s Alexandria locations. She noted in her lawsuit she had been allowed her religious accommodation until last year, when she claimed the company changed its policies and discontinued offering such exemptions.
A devout Catholic, Casey adheres to the teaching that abortion in all forms is a “moral evil.”
Michael DeAngelis, a spokesperson from CVS’ headquarters in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, said the pharmacy chain tries to accommodate employees’ beliefs but told the Associated Press it “is not possible” to “grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job.”
“We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions,” he reiterated.
ADF attorney Kevin Theriot, who is representing Casey, said there is not a great deal of case law under Virginia’s Conscience Clause, partly because “very rarely do corporations just come out and fire somebody because of their religious convictions.”
He noted patients who wanted abortive care or contraceptives could have simply scheduled a visit with a different nurse practitioner — a workaround that was apparently in place until 2021, when CVS changed its policies.
“CVS,” Theriot said, “created a problem where none existed.”
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