Passing judgment on the victim
Pennsylvania House Bill 288 is reasonable legislation that would see to it that emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill, is available to any rape victim who wanted it, no matter what hospital she was in. It would provide a guarantee that all rape victims have information and access to emergency contraception in every Pennsylvania emergency room.
Unfortunately, even something as straightforward as guaranteeing rape victims access to pregnancy prevention may be too moderate a concept for our esteemed House members to embrace.
A vote on this bill is expected on Monday.
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.
But the "McCall amendment" to the proposed law, to also be presented Monday, would permit faith-based hospitals to exempt themselves from the bill's requirement for religious or moral reasons – gutting the very guarantees the legislation would provide.
So what can't I help but assuming about any lawmaker who votes in favor of the exemption? That he is a Neanderthal less concerned with defending the rights of a rape victim and more concerned that some sanctimonious jerk in a lab coat has the right to impose his personal moral views on brutalized women.
I mean, what else is a person to conclude about these guys?
Well, I guess we could also conclude that they think Pennsylvania voters are a bunch of religious extremists who want women, even rape victims, not to have access to birth control. And, they are so cynical that they are willing to sell their votes to what they assume is a majority of Pennsylvanians for the assurance of continued support for a cushy job and a nice fat pension.
Scary thoughts indeed.
Let us go over it again: Emergency contraception is not abortion (pdf). When used soon after unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy.
A Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece, written by two members of the Womens Donor Network, sums up the issue quite nicely. The article is here. It points out:
On Oct. 18, Pennsylvania's Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved regulations that would allow health-care facilities with religious affiliations or moral objections to claim an exemption from a laudable new rule that requires hospitals to inform rape victims of their right to emergency contraception, and to provide the contraceptive pills to the raped woman if she wants them. The regulation was handed down just as legislators were scheduled to take up a bill that would have required Pennsylvania hospitals and health-care facilities essentially to offer the rule without a so-called conscience clause.
With the clause, state regulators have apparently appeased opponents to the proposed legislation who want to allow facilities to withhold birth control - even from rape victims - based on theological or moral grounds. Others seek to muddy the waters by claiming that emergency birth control is something it's not. (Emergency birth control is nothing more than two birth-control pills combined. It does not terminate a pregnancy; it prevents one from happening.)
Readers in Pennsylvania should call their elected representatives, urging them to support House Bill 288 as it stands and to oppose this mean-spirited Amendment.
Lauri in York