Rape victims in Missouri deserve comprehensive, compassionate care when they seek help in Missouri emergency rooms. Currently, emergency rooms in Missouri are not required to offer rape victims emergency contraception (EC). When a woman has suffered such a horrible trauma, her care needs to be as swift and complete as possible. Forcing a rape victim to take a separate, humiliating trip to a pharmacy in order to access emergency contraception is unacceptable and uncompassionate. Even worse, forcing a rape victim to become pregnant with her rapist’s child is cruel and inhumane.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution. The CARE (Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies) Bill – Missouri House Bill 636 – would require all hospital emergency rooms in Missouri to offer emergency contraception to all rape victims.
House Bill 636 was heard on March 9, 2011 in the Missouri House’s Committee on Children and Families. The members of the committee heard moving testimony by a disabled woman who was raped in Missouri. When she was taken to an ER, she was not offered EC. To compound the tragedy, this rape victim became pregnant, the pregnancy threatened her life, and she had to have an abortion in order to save her own life.
I encourage all voters in Missouri to contact their state representatives to make sure that HB 636 is passed during this legislative session. Caring for rape victims crosses partisan, religious, and ideological lines. Even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that rape victims should be offered medicine to prevent pregnancy (Directive 36). Women in Missouri cannot wait any longer. Let’s pass the CARE bill now.
The Rev. Teresa Danieley, pres. Faith Aloud Missouri Policy Project and pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, St. Louis