Sunday, April 01, 2007

Catholic Hospitals: there when you need them the least

Via Feministe, there's an excellent (read: horrifying) confluence of disinformation, religious meddling, and sexual moralizing that's making life harder for rape victims in Connecticut.
Last year, Mansell directed Connecticut's Catholic hospitals not to prescribe Plan B if a rape victim is ovulating or an egg has been fertilized. Roman Catholics believe life begins at conception.
Laura Cordes, policy and advocacy director for Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, said her organization has offered a compromise this year that would require a pregnancy test before Plan B is administered. The drug would not be given to anyone with a positive test. She said Catholic officials in New Jersey and New York agreed to such a provision.
So, let's review how emergency contraception works: it has been shown to a) prevent ovulation, and b) prevent fertilization of an egg. There is the possibility that it will prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, thus preventing pregnancy (and causing an event that occurs with 5 out of 6 fertilized eggs in the first place) but this has not been shown to be true. It cannot affect an ongoing pregnancy.

So if a rape victim mistakenly darkens the emergency room door of a Catholic hospital in Connecticut, she may be tested for pregnancy, and unless she was pregnant before the rape occurred, be assured of a negative result (given the inability of a pregnancy test to detect pregnancy at such an early stage). So far so good, I guess, but certainly a waste of time.

She may also be tested for ovulation. If the test returns as positive, the EC may still have a chance to prevent fertilization of a released egg, but will be denied EC because of the unproven and even if possible, statistically unlikely, risk that implantation will be prevented (and thus pregnancy). If it is negative, EC will still be administered.

This is exactly why it's important to continue to disseminate information about how emergency contraception actually works and why all women - even women who choose to have sex - need access to it. Whether through rape or forced pregnancy, women are being punished for animating bodies that others wish to control. Our bodies are losing out to disinformation spread by social conservatives with an anti-woman agenda. If feminists won't stand up for them, who will?
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