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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pennsylvania Emergency Contraception Bill

The Pennsylvania House may vote on a bill next week that would require access to emergency contraception.

Hospitals would have to inform rape victims about emergency contraception and provide the so-called morning-after pill upon request under a bill pending in the House.

Rep. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, sponsored the bill that could be called for a floor vote by next week. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference likens the pill to abortion in some cases and opposes the bill. They are seeking an amendment that would exclude religious-affiliated hospitals from issuing contraception.

Backers of the bill include Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania Advocates and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Both groups say the bill protects women from further trauma and should apply to all hospitals.

The bill is awaiting a vote almost a year after an emergency-room physician at Lebanon's Good Samaritan Hospital failed to inform a 20-year-old rape victim about emergency contraception. Dr. Martin Gish, a Mennonite, later said he has a problem with the medication, and the woman drove to Reading to get it.

Rep. Bev Mackereth, R-Spring Grove, who sits on the House Health and Human Services Committee, backs the bill. She said the pill is birth control and rape victims should have the opportunity to take it.

Mackereth opposes an exception for religious hospitals, saying distraught rape victims should not have to find somewhere else to go.
Rep. Steven Nickol, R-Hanover, also supports it. He said it would result in more abortions if rape victims don't have the chance to take the pill.

Nickol also said current law already protects medical personnel from participating in a procedure that violates their conscience, and he does not want to extend similar protections to entire hospitals.

Last fall, a Senate committee approved a bill requiring notification of emergency contraception, and that version excluded religious facilities from providing it. That bill languished without a floor vote at the end of the 2005-06 term.

Catholic Conference spokeswoman Amy Beisel said religious-affiliated hospitals should not be forced to administer the contraception because the pill can create conditions that have a detrimental effect on a fertilized egg.

"From our perspective, life begins at conception," Beisel said.

Susan Gobreski of Planned Parenthood said the contraception is birth control that does not work on a fertilized egg.

"It's not an abortion. It prevents abortion," Gobreski said.

Another possible amendment to Leach's bill would require hospitals to perform a pregnancy test to ensure a woman is not pregnant before any emergency contraception can be administered.

Though Leach's bill is on the House calendar this week, it was hard to predict Wednesday when House leaders will call a vote on the controversial measure. Lawmakers are also absorbed with negotiating a state budget and voting budget-related bills before the next fiscal year begins July 1.


Requires all hospitals to tell rape victims about emergency contraception, and provide them with state-approved literature.

Requires hospitals to provide emergency contraception if the victim requests it.

Requires hospitals to offer a rape counselor, and give the victim a chance to consult with the counselor at the hospital.

I always love the argument that life begins at conception. The fact of the matter is, rape victims didn't consent to that conception. It was violently FORCED upon them against their will. But hey, side with the rapist!! After all, this is what's happening in this country. The rapist is becoming the victim, and the rape victim is becoming the criminal.

I'm really sick of these religious people demanding a pass because of their religious beliefs. A rape victim who is taken to a hospital most likely isn't going to get a choice of what hospital she's taken to. Why should she be forced to choose another hospital simply because of someone else's damn religious beliefs? It's a crock of shit!!

If you're a doctor, you take a hippocratic oath. Part of that oath states that you will never deliberately do harm to anyone for anyone else's interest. Clearly if you deliberately withhold information regarding emergency contraception from a patient because your RELIGION tells you to do it, you're doing harm to that patient. Clearly if you refuse to give someone contraception because your RELIGION tells you to do it, you're doing harm to that patient. Clearly if you refuse to perform an abortion on a patient because your RELIGION tells you to do it, you're doing harm to that patient. Therefore, you should no longer be a DOCTOR!!

There should be NO EXCEPTION made for hospitals with a religious objection. They have a duty to serve everyone, not just who they agree with morally. If you can't put your moral and religious beliefs aside, you don't belong in business. I'd say that the state should even go as far as shutting down these hospitals that refuse to comply if this law is passed.

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