Friday, September 28, 2007

Make EC available for all victims of rape

As initially presented, House Bill 288 proposed sane much-needed guarantees to rape victims, offering assurances that they would be treated humanely when seeking medical help from any of Pennsylvania's hospitals.

A measure pending in the state House would see to it that emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill, is available for a victim who wanted it, no matter what hospital she was in.

But an amendment may be offered as early as Tuesday that would permit faith-based hospitals to exempt themselves from the bill's requirement – gutting the very guarantees the legislation would provide.

Rape and sexual assault victims come to the hospital for compassionate treatment. But essentially, the amendment makes it possible for medical providers to force their religious beliefs on women during what undoubtedly is one of the worst moments of their lives.

As Rabbi Carl Choper, chairman of the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania, said Thursday:

"The core issue regarding religious liberty is whose ethical and moral system will govern the situation – the sexual assault victim's or the healthcare provider's," Choper wrote in his statement. "We believe that the position of the government must be that the victim's moral system prevails."

Emergency contraception is not abortion. It prevents pregnancy before it occurs.

This incredibly mean-spirited amendment needs to be rejected. Women seeking treatment must grapple with the emotional turmoil and feelings of guilt that rape inevitably brings. They don't need the callous judgment heaped on them by the people they turn to for help.

Hopefully, a majority of our state lawmakers grasp this.

Lauri in York



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