Friday, December 31, 2004

Every Sperm is Sacred...

The title I got from David Ehrenstein on Eschaton. It's originally from Monty Python, and it is relevant for the topic of this post, which is this:

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued its first-ever medical guidelines for treating sexual-assault victims - without any mention of emergency contraception, the standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.
The omission of the so-called morning-after pill has frustrated and angered victims' advocates and medical professionals who have long worked to improve victims' care.
Gail Burns-Smith, one of several dozen experts who vetted the protocol during its three-year development by Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said emergency contraception was included in an early draft, and she does not know of anyone who opposed it.

The likely reason for not mentioning emergency contraception, which consists of a larger-than-usual dose of the contraceptive pill, is the wingnut belief that the contraceptive pill can prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg to the lining of the uterus. As I mentioned in an earlier post on the contraceptive pill, there is no scientific evidence to support this belief, but the wingnuts don't care. Or rather, what they really are after is the banning of all contraception and this is the first step in that campaign.

I'm a Goddess in Her Wrath about this. Have you ever held a woman who has just been raped? Who has had someone urinate on her face afterwards? Who is covered with cuts and bruises? Who is so scared that she mewls when a male medic walks by?
Who will never again be the same woman she was just a few hours earlier? And now perhaps, just perhaps, she might not be told about a pill that can stop her hell from continuing, a pill that doesn't cause abortions. That's empathy for you, I guess. Or pro-life. Whatever.

Not that rape victims have always been informed about emergency contraception anyway:

One of the most inconsistent aspects of care is the morning-after pill. A 2002 analysis of national emergency-room data by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that only 21 percent of sexual-assault victims received it. In a 1998 survey of urban Catholic hospitals, a University of Pennsylvania study found that 12 of 27 centers had rules against informing rape victims about the method.
The risk of pregnancy after rape is small — less than 5 percent — but the vulnerable group is large. Of 333,000 sexual assaults and rapes reported in 1998, about 25,000 resulted in pregnancies — of which 22,000 could have been prevented, a Princeton University population researcher estimated.

What we need is wider access to emergency contraception for rape victims, not guidelines which forget to mention it because of the wingnut pressure on this administration. Without the emergency contraception more abortions will be performed. Is this what the pro-life culture demands?
Original link via Atrios.