Governor betrays rape victims
Welcome to the new theocracy, where religious dogma informs public policy and the spiritual beliefs of one man can trample the rights of many. While the new theocracy can be seen from middle school teachers in the South afraid to discuss evolution to our president rocketing in from Texas to join in the Terri Schiavo fray, the latest example was launched right here at home.Of course, Gov. Bill Owens denies that his Catholic faith had anything to do with his veto of House Bill 1042, but that’s pretty hard to believe. How else to explain why anyone would block this legislation, which would do nothing other than ensure that women who have been raped are counseled on – and have access to – emergency contraception.More than 300,000 women are sexually assaulted in the United States each year, and 25,000-32,000 of them become pregnant. While one might assume that the typical hospital would have doctors or nurses ready and willing to inform a rape victim about so-called “morning-after pills” in the likely instance that she wouldn’t want to bear a rapist’s child, that’s not the case in a Catholic hospital. Quite a few of Colorado’s hospitals are Catholic-run, and contraception, in the strict Catholic sense, is a no-no. Gov. Owens, then, was being leaned on by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and others to veto the legislation. He, like a good 2005 Republican, caved.Never mind the fact that we were only talking here about informing the woman of her options. The Catholic hospitals would not have been required to provide the pill. They only needed mention it as an option, allowing the victim to go elsewhere for the pill if she so chose.We appreciate Owens’ concern over the state looking as if it’s meddling in the church’s affairs. But at the end of the day, the rights of the rape victim trump those of the church, and if they’re going to run hospitals, they need to recognize that not every aspect of health care is or can be informed by the Bible or church law.The pill bill will come around again, probably to be signed by a future governor who’s a Democrat or female or both. It’s too bad Owens couldn’t see past his own prejudices to do the right thing in this instance.A.M.Vail, Colorado
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