FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia nurse practitioner sued CVS Health on Wednesday, saying she was fired for refusing to provide abortion drugs at its MinuteClinic medical facility.
In the lawsuit, Paige Casey said CVS for years gave her a religious accommodation that allowed her to refuse to prescribe or supply the drugs and some contraceptives without incident.
Last year, however, she says the company changed its policy and stopped providing such accommodations.
Casey – who had worked for MinuteClinic since 2018, mostly at a facility in Alexandria – appealed to the company, saying her Catholic faith taught her that life begins at conception and that she could not provide care in violation of this principle.
She says she was fired in late March, the same day she emailed company officials to reiterate her objections.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal group led by conservative Christian Michael Farris, represents Casey and says Virginia law explicitly prohibits employers from taking disciplinary action against employees who oppose abortion for moral or religious reasons.
“Every American should have the freedom to act according to their ethical and religious beliefs,” ADF attorney Kevin Theriot, who represents Casey, said in a phone interview.
Michael DeAngelis, spokesman for Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS, said the company tries to accommodate religious beliefs, but said sexual health services are an essential part of the job at MinuteClinics.
“It is not possible (…) to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job,” he said in a statement. “We cannot grant exemptions to these essential functions of MinuteClinic.”
Theriot said there is very little case law under Virginia law, in part because “very rarely do companies go out and fire someone because of their religious beliefs.”
But he said most states offer similar protections, and federal law also offers protection.
Patients who wanted contraceptive or abortive medications not provided by Casey could simply schedule or be served by other practitioners in the MinuteClinic network, Theriot said. And it worked seamlessly until CVS changed its policy, Theriot said.
“CVS created a problem where none existed,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed in Prince William County Circuit Court.
. A nurse practitioner Virginia says CVS fired for abortion