Freedom to Coerce

"Victims of rape?  Who cares?  Religion is under assault in this country!  Wahhhhh!" (loose paraphrase of both Romney and Santorum last night.)
I've always been puzzled by my university's instructions to students in the event of rape--they are to go to the emergency rooms of specific hospitals.  Why not just any hospital--perhaps the closest one, or one they've been to before?

Last night's Republican presidential debate shed some light. You see, at most Catholic-run hospitals, they won't offer rape victims a morning-after pill.  If you you want to avoid bearing your rapist's child, you're going to have to make a second trip, to another emergency room.  And it turns out (this was in The New York Times the other day), there are a lot of Catholic hospitals, and a lot of other hospitals with Catholic rules, because they are affiliated with Catholic hospitals. One in six people in the US will visit a Catholic hospital this year.

Now, why were the Republican gentlemen talking about this?  Because, according to Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney did not sufficiently protect the freedoms of Catholics when he was governor of Massachusetts.  He signed a bill that required Catholic hospitals to give rape victims the option of the morning after pill. Santorum, and then Romney, made a huge show of compassion.  For the rape victims?  Ha!  No, for those poor, tormented bishops who didn't get their way in Massachusetts hospitals.  Imagine the torture--of being forced to allow emergency room doctors to dispense morning after pills to rape victims!

I waited, and waited ... for some sign of compassion for, you know, the woman who is completely traumatized by rape, and then winds up in a hospital where she's essentially told "Tough luck, have the baby, because that's what 'the church' believes you should do."  What about her emotional and physical health? What about her right to follow her own conscience? But no, the gentlemen did not say a word about her predicament. It was all about the poor compromised bishop.

Whatever you think about whether freedom of religion covers how medical care is dispensed in hospital emergency rooms (I think it doesn't), it says a lot when the main concern is for distant male clergy, not rape victims.  Not one word of sympathy. Nothing about the fact that women have a conscience too. Nothing about who's conscience should prevail, in a matter as personal as continuing or ending a pregnancy. Nothing about the rape itself.  Not one word from any of them.  That's... revolting.


Deepak Shetty said...

Not one word from any of them. That's... revolting.
And note that the support these get. Its not a tiny fraction - a significant minority agrees with views such as the ones expressed by Santorum (or atleast doesn't find them important enough to ditch him as a candidate).

Russell Blackford said...

Well said, Jean.