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Owens and the Church lack compassion

Boyd and Veiga stand by rape survivors

By Leigh E. Rich

We’re not a theocracy. We’re not an autocracy. American government, and thus Colorado’s, is representative. So just who, then, does Gov. Bill Owens represent?

I’m guessing it must be the Catholic Church, given his veto this week of Rep. Betty Boyd and Sen. Jennifer Veiga’s emergency contraception bill. The bill, passed by both the House and the Senate, would have required all Colorado hospitals to inform female rape victims of the availability of emergency contractive medication to prevent a possible ensuing pregnancy.

“Inform” is the operative word.

The bill allowed hospitals that oppose dispensing the medication to refer the patient to another facility and it exempted providers with moral or religious objections from participating at all.

The veto was a so-called big win for Catholic hospitals and organizations, including the Colorado Catholic Conference, who fought the bill on the grounds that church doctrine opposes the use of artificial contraception and abortion.

Followers of church doctrine, as explained in several recent articles disseminated by the Catholic News Agency, would have a female rape survivor undergo a pregnancy test to see if her egg has been fertilized with the rapist’s semen.

And if that’s the case, well then, sorry ladies, looks like you’re going to have to carry that fertilized egg to term.

EC medication, similar to birth control pills, also can prevent a woman’s ovary from releasing an egg. And that’s OK with the church, because fertilization has not already occurred.

So, note to all women and their rapists out there: Try to coordinate this brutal, violent crime at the most appropriate time in a woman’s menstrual cycle. That way, there’s no chance of offending the Catholic Church—obviously Bill Owens’ main concern.

Of course, he might be, like the church, concerned about the potentially fertilized egg that’s an “innocent victim.”

Funny how the law considers the rape survivor the innocent victim.

Boyd and Veiga’s bill only sought to underscore this fact.

Since about half of pregnancies caused by rapists in America—which number between 25,000 and 32,000 per year—end in abortion, it’s hard to follow the church’s illogical ideas. By opposing House Bill 1042, it just caused the termination of thousands of pregnancies, rather than their prevention. Oh, yeah, and forced already brutalized women to face a decision that’s difficult, despite what the church might say, for any woman to make.

Perhaps the church thinks it will sway those approximately 15,000 women into keeping their rapists’ seed? Or, better yet, if it can just overturn Roe v. Wade altogether, it wouldn’t even have to bother with the messy moral problem posed by those pesky rape victims.

Sure, some women might not choose emergency contraception; some might not become pregnant; and some might decide to allow that fertilized egg the chance to grow in the womb. But these are their choices—not the church’s.

Boyd and Veiga and the legislators who understand compassion in the wake of one of the most heinous crimes one human can perpetrate against another deserve credit for continuing to pursue such legislation.

Perhaps a more successful route, as a friend of mine who’s a doctor suggested, might be to define the dispensing of EC information as emergent care—which it is, considering there’s a short window in which EC medication may be administered and that pregnancy, even in this day and age, can become life-threatening. What’s more, a rape survivor who doesn’t wish to become pregnant by her assailant might experience self-destructive or suicidal thoughts.

Emergency room doctors have an obligation to treat emergent patients, regardless of moral objections. That means they even have to do all that’s medically possible to save the life of an individual who’s just murdered six kindergartners and shows up in an ER with gunshot wounds from the officers who brought the criminal into custody.

I’d think many medical practitioners, regardless of religion, might wince when legally forced to mend such a murderer.

If the Catholic Church balks at handing out information to innocent victims of rape, maybe it should get out of the hospital business and opt for primary care clinics.

And if Gov. Owens can’t distinguish between his religious beliefs and U.S. and Colorado law, maybe he should trade in his veto pen for an aspergillum. 

Rich, L. E. (2005, April 8). Owens and the Church lack compassion: Boyd and Veiga stand by rape survivors. The Colorado Statesman.

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