Operation Secure Womb
Lauren of Alas, a blog, found this lovely bit of Christian love:
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....
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.
"But in the climate in which we are currently operating, politically it's a hot potato," said Burns-Smith, retired director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services....
Lynn Schollet, a lawyer with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said that without emergency contraception, the trauma of rape could be compounded by an unplanned pregnancy.
"It is very unfortunate to set forth a model national standard that is not giving women the best care available," Schollet said.
At this point, I find myself wondering if this would even be possible if the Equal Rights Amendment had not been stonewalled by the old Confederate states.
But wait, there's more!
The controversy has erupted just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to reconsider whether to make it easier to get emergency contraception. A year ago, the FDA rejected nonprescription sales of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. The ruling delighted conservative groups that had lobbied the Bush administration but went against the FDA's own staff, advisory panels and major medical societies.
The manufacturer's latest application would make Plan B available without a doctor's orders to females 16 and over.
Ah, so they're setting the ball for a spike in the face of all women.
Advocates say emergency contraception, which is high-dose birth-control pills, reduces the chance of pregnancy 75 to 90 percent - but only if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
"This narrow window of effectiveness makes timely access to emergency contraception critical," declares the petition.
File this one under "Don't confuse us with facts, our minds are made up."
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 out 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, estimated James Trussell, a Princeton University population researcher.
Emergency contraception is controversial because, like stem cells and cloning, it has become tangled in the politics of abortion. The method usually works by keeping an egg from being released or being fertilized. However, it may sometimes prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus - equated with murder by some conservative groups and the Catholic Church (which opposes all forms of contraception).
Were you taking notes? Dr. George Isajiw, an anti-choice activist, wasn't. Look at the ludicrous position he claims:
By giving emergency contraception, he said, "you're giving a dangerous drug that's not doing any good, or else you're causing an abortion. As a moral principle, a woman has the right to defend herself against an aggressor. But she doesn't have the right to kill the baby."
Not doing any good? Excuse me? It thought unwanted pregnancy (for teens, for grandmothers, for any women) was something to prevent.
And what baby? The pill is designed to prevent conception! Is he afraid of emasculating the man's precious seed?
What a nice capper to 2004. Next year: "US ships rape victims to Guantanamo."
I need a cocktail.
[Update 9:42pm EST -- echidne has a most eloquent and biting response to this latest salvo by the radical right in its abuse of women.]