Thursday, May 17, 2007

You go, Governor!

I'm often glad I'm from Connecticut, partially because of our record on sexual justice issues.

Connecticut, you may remember, brought us Griswold v. Connecticut, forty years ago this June, which led to the Supreme Court deciding that married women had a constitutional right to contraception. Connecticut was the first state to legislate civil unions for same sex couples. I remember several years ago, when I was at SIECUS, that we did a report card on sexual rights in the states, and Connecticut was one of the only states to received an A.

Yesterday, the Governor quietly signed a bill that requires all of the hospitals in Connecticut to offer rape victims PLAN B, emergency contraception. Now, that should be a no brainer, but because of the number of Catholic hospitals in Connecticut, it turns out that rape victims were not offered EC in nearly half of our state's hospitals. That will now have to change.

Catholic clergy lobbied hard against the bill, but the rights of women who are raped prevailed. Women who have been raped should not have to risk pregnancy if they are accidently brought to an emergency room where the provider or hospital opposes contraception. Surely, we can all agree, regardless of our positions on abortion, that pregnancies arising from rape should be prevented.

It's a small step for sexual justice...but it's a step. Now, if we can just convince Governor Rell to sign the marriage equality bill if it reaches her desk.


Cassandra said...

Well, if it could be done ethically, I wouldn't have a problem with it, however, from what I've read, emergency contraception can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. If you believe that life begins at conception, this is problematic and I'm perturbed that there is no exception for those institutions that are morally opposed to it. Will the government next force Catholic hospitals to offer abortion services? The implications of this are far reaching and disturbing.

amyerj said...

You're my new favorite blog. I just linked over from a friend and spent about 45 minutes reading post after post. I'm a lesbian, single mom, been playing around with the idea of attending my friends Unitarian Church. I'm looking for answers in my life but most churches scare the living hell out of me. You've got me convinced to give it a try.

I applaud your sensibility. Thank you!

Maura said...

Consider me another fan who has added you to my blog favorites!

(And any other progressive women here in CT are welcome to join us at My Left Nutmeg, a progressive community blog, as well!

Cassandra, this bill does make an exception for any institution which does not want its own personnel to dispense Plan B - that institution can contract with an independent provider for this service.

The American Medical Association has endorsed this protocol as the standard for emergency treatment for all rape victims. This bill focuses on the needs of rape victims and appropriate medical care. Catholic hospitals are HOSPITALS, not churches, so the state is absolutely correct in focusing on medical issues, not religious ones. But this bill certainly goes far in making the accomodation to allow independent providers to dispense this medication.

(BTW, there is no medical or scientific evidence to show that Plan B interferes with implantation. There IS medical evidence that Plan B prevents ovulation, and there IS medical evidence that Plan B can prevent fertilization after ovulation has occurred. But there is no evidence that Plan B would prevent implantation. That is speculation, not science.)

Cassandra said...

From the Office of Population Research & Association of Reproductive Health Professionals:

How Emergency Contraception Works

Does emergency contraception cause an abortion?

No, using emergency contraceptive pills (also called "morning after pills" or "day after pills") prevents pregnancy after sex. It does not cause an abortion. (In fact, because emergency contraception helps women avoid getting pregnant when they are not ready or able to have children, it can reduce the need for abortion.)

Emergency contraceptive pills or the IUD as emergency contraception work before pregnancy begins. According to leading medical authorities – such as the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg implants in the lining of a woman's uterus. Implantation begins five to seven days after sperm fertilizes the egg, and the process is completed several days later. Emergency contraception will not work if a woman is already pregnant, and it also will not harm the woman or her fetus.

The way emergency contraceptive pills work depends on where you are in your monthly cycle when you take them. They may prevent or delay ovulation (release of your egg), affect the movement of egg or sperm (making them less likely to meet), interfere with the fertilization process, or PREVENT IMPLANTATION OF A FERTILIZED EGG. The copper in Copper-T IUDs can prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg and may also prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
Sorry, but preventing a fertilized egg is problematic for those who believe that life begins at conception.

Again, the implications of this are disturbing. Perhaps I'm not fully grasping your position, but it would seem, by your rationale, that Catholic schools then should be forced to teach content contrary to Catholic teaching. By the same argument, Catholic hospitals should also be required to provide abortions.

Debra W. Haffner said...

Welcome, Amyerj and Maura. I'm glad to have you as readers! I hope you'll come back and tell your friends... ; )

Debra W. Haffner said...

Cassandra and others, I'm not surprised by your concern...the reason I think this is different is that we are talking about RAPE VICTIMS getting immediate care. I differ with other progressives in that I do not think it is appropriate to require a Catholic hospital to have to offer a family planning service to its patients -- although I do think they need to have referrals for people who ask. But in the case of rape, women are brought to the NEAREST emergency room, and in Connecticut, that's could be St. Vincent's, Saint Raphael's, or others...and they should not be traumatized again by not getting the care they need. Regarding schools, parents choose to send their children to parochial schools and therefore choose the values they teach. No one is talking about requiring Catholic schools to teach subjects that are against their values.