hearts and minds

March 22, 2007

Emergency Contraception for Victims of Rape

There is an important bill under consideration in the Wisconsin legislature that would require that all hospital emergency rooms provide information about, and access to, emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault. Any questions you have about this proposed law are answered in the Fact Sheet provided by the Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape Coalition.
AB377/SB129 is endorsed by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin among many others.
Click here for a quick summary of the story.

This post is a verbatim record of the communication I have had with State Senators Glenn Grothman and Alberta Darling, and Assemblymen Mark Gottlieb and James Ott, (all representing Ozaukee County), regarding this legislation to require “Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape”.

I will update this record as and if I receive any responses from these legislators.
Read their words and post a comment. Make a difference and add your voice now to this debate.
But, Be sure to contact your Wisconsin state legislators.
Call the Legislative Hotline 1-800-362-9472 to do so.

___________________________________________________________________

From: Clyde Winter Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007
To: Sen.Grothman@legis.state.wi.us, and
To: Rep.Gottlieb@legis.state.wi.us

Subject: CCRV Bill LRB 1387/3.

Please support and co-sponsor the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Bill, LRB 1387/3.

Decreasing the number of unintended pregnancies due to rape or incest by timely provision of emergency contraception is in the interest of all Wisconsin, and protects the rights of victims of crime.

Please inform me whether you support or oppose this proposed Legislation.

Thank You,

Clyde Winter

___________________________________________________________________


On Mar 21, 2007, Clyde Winter called Sen. Grothman’s Madison office
to ask for his position and why Sen. Grothman hadn’t yet replied to the March 15 inquiry. Assistant Jolene Churchill stated that Sen. Grothman would not be sponsoring the bill. I asked for a written reply to my inquiry.

On Mar 21, 2007, at 2:33 PM, Sen. Glenn Grothman wrote:

Dear Clyde,

Thank you for contacting Senator Glenn Grothman’s office to express your support for LRB 1387/3. We appreciate you letting us know of your interest in this legislation. Preventing and stopping sexual assault against women from the outset is definitely a concern to Senator Grothman, and as such, I will be glad to convey your message to him.

Take care and have a good day!

Sincerely,

Jolene R. Churchill, Assistant
Senator Glenn Grothman
20th Senate District

On Wednesday March 21, Clyde Winter wrote to Senator Grothman

Jolene, your response does not address this bill, and what happens when and if (in spite of Senator Grothman’s best efforts to prevent and stop sexual assault “from the outset”) a female does become a victim of rape or incest.

Clyde Winter

On March 21, 2007, Sen. Grothman’s Assistant, Jolene Churchill wrote:

Clyde,

Just now I shared your message with Glenn. He asked me to let you know that he has met with representatives of Planned Parenthood and is in the process of meeting with representatives of hospitals in our district to discuss this issue.

Jolene

On Mar 21, 2007, Clyde Winter wrote to Senator Glenn Grothman
Thank you very much, Jolene. Please let me know Senator Grothman’s position on this bill when he has formulated it. I respectfully urge Senator Grothman (when he is deciding) to place higher priority on the health, well-being, and personal rights of female human beings in the State of Wisconsin, than on the official position of “representatives of hospitals in our district”.

Clyde Winter

There has been no further reply from Senator Grothman. He was one of only six Senators to vote against CCRV. After five years during which the Republican leaders of both the Senate and the Assembly prevented CCRV from even getting a public hearing by either house of the legislature (and despite Senator Grothman’s active opposition and vote against it) when public hearings and votes on the floor were finally held in 2007, the bill passed overwhelmingly and was signed into law in early 2008.

___________________________________________________________________

On Mar 15, 2007, Rep. Mark Gottlieb replied:

Mr. Winter,

Thank you for contacting me with your views on LRB 1387 as proposed by Senator Robson.

In the past, many Catholic hospitals have opposed emergency contraception mandates because they believe that the effect could be the destruction of a human embryo after it has been conceived, sometimes referred to as a “chemical abortion.” I don’t think the State should mandate any private religious healthcare institution to provide a service that conflicts with their ethical teaching.

I understand, however, that some efforts have been made with regard to this bill to address that concern. If it ultimately turns out that these health care institutions do not object to the bill, I would reconsider my position on this issue.

Please feel free to contact me again in the future about issues of concern to you.

Mark Gottlieb

Clyde Winter responded on March 15 to Mark Gottlieb:

Thank you for responding, Mr. Gottlieb, but I believe your reply is uninformed or inadequate.

First, you should be aware that emergency contraception prevents an egg from becoming an embryo. It does not abort an embryo.

Second, the argument that a human embryo “could be” destroyed, is equivalent to an argument that any medical procedure, such as administering anesthetics before setting a broken limb, or performing surgery, “could” destroy an embryo. This argument would require, or at least permit a doctor, hospital, or pharmacy to deny pain medicine to a pregnant woman prior to completion of delivery at term. This argument implies that the possibility that a birth may occur in the future takes precedence over any rights that a woman might otherwise claim as her own, if exercising her rights may have an impact on that possibility.

Third, the Religious Directives for Catholic Hospitals clarify that emergency contraception is an acceptable form of treatment for rape victims as long as the victim is not already pregnant. The proposed bill does not require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to a rape victim who is already pregnant.

Fourth, almost 100 percent of rape and incest induced pregnancies could be PREVENTED if emergency contraception were made available and taken within twelve hours. The sooner emergency contraception is taken, the more effective it is in preventing such a tragic pregnancy.

Fifth, Wisconsin Voters overwhelmingly (82 percent) support ensuring access to emergency contraception for victims of rape and incest.

Sixth, whether certain “health care institutions (do or) do not object to the bill”, should not determine whether you support it. Human beings, and their health, their well-being, and their rights, should be the primary consideration.

Will you please now reconsider and reverse your opposition to the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Bill?

Clyde Winter

On March 21, Clyde Winter again wrote to Rep. Mark Gottlieb:

On March 15 you sent me an email you had been using to answer constituent inquiries on the subject of emergency contraception for victims of rape or incest. I replied, addressing specific points you made in it. I have not received your response. I am sending it again in hopes you will address these points.

[Here I copied and re-sent my follow-up letter sent March 15 to Rep. Gottlieb]

Clyde Winter


On Mar 22, 2007, at 4:01 PM, Rep.Gottlieb wrote:

Mr. Winter,

Thank you for this further information. My staff has checked again and we do not believe we ever received your previous message. As you know, it is my policy to respond personally to all constituent communications.

I appreciate your comments, and I will give them serious consideration if this bill comes to the floor.

Mark Gottlieb

Clyde Winter replied to Rep. Gottlieb on Mar 22, 2007:

Mark, Your staff may well be correct in asserting that you “never received (my) previous message”. But I forwarded a copy of that very (March 15) message with my March 21 message. And you did not respond to it, either. Here it is again.

[And here I included, for the third time, my March 15 follow-up to Mr. Gottlieb.]

Would you rather not comment on any of the six specific points I made in that message addressed personally to you regarding the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Bill?

Clyde Winter

no reply was ever received from Rep. Gottlieb.

However, on December 12, 2007, a vote was finally held on the floor of the Assembly. The following conversation occurred in December with Rep. Gottlieb.

On December 7, Clyde Winter sent the following message to Rep. Gottlieb:

Dear Representative Gottlieb,

As a constituent, I ask you to vote YES for the original version of the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Bill (SB129/AB377).

… I have written plenty about this issue, after having thought about it quite a bit. I hope you have thought more about it, too, since last spring when we first communicated about this.

The Compassionate Care for Rape Victims bill is a commonsense proposal to ensure that all women who are sexually assaulted receive compassionate medical care – including information about emergency birth control, which can prevent pregnancy after sexual assault. Currently, only one-third of the emergency rooms in Wisconsin are meeting the AMA’s standards of care by providing this information and access.

An amendment would allow hospitals to withhold critical information about and access to emergency contraception from rape victims. In short, the bill with this amendment is worse than existing law.

The State Senate passed the original version of the bill by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 27-6. Over 80% of Wisconsin voters support this bill, and not one hospital opposes the original version of the bill.

Please join your colleagues in the State Senate, 80% of Wisconsin voters and myself in supporting compassionate care for rape victims, by voting yes on AB377 without amendment.

Clyde Winter

On December 12, Rep. Gottlieb replied:

Thanks for emailing me with your views.

The Assembly passed AB 377 yesterday on a vote of 56-41. I voted against the bill.

Prior to passage, three amendments were introduced. One of those amendments (AA2) maintained the requirement for hospitals to provide emergency contraception, but prohibited a hospital from taking any action against an employee who refuses to administer EC for reasons of conscience. That is very different from the amendment that was added in committee, which also provided an opt-out for hospitals. I considered AA2 to be a very reasonable compromise. It retains the intent of the bill, which is to require that hospitals make information about EC available, and provide EC upon request, while still protecting the conscience rights of individuals. These are essentially the same conscience rights that are in current law. That amendment was defeated, prompting me to oppose passage of the bill.

Thanks again for contacting me about this issue. Feel free to contact me again on this or any other matter of concern.

Rep. Mark Gottlieb

On December 12, Clyde Winter responded as follows to Rep. Gottlieb:

Thank you for letting me know how it went, and how you voted, Mark.

I’m very glad that the bill finally passed the Assembly. I’m not in agreement with the amendment you supported, for the following very important reason.

Informing a person of their rights, and providing access to, and information about, appropriate and legal medical care should be a responsibility of persons providing medical care to sick and injured persons. The objective information provided a victim of rape should certainly include information about long term counseling and support for the victim, including assistance should the victim (despite or without emergency contraception) become pregnant. Responsible medical personnel should, without question, be willing and able to provide that information and access.

What if a medical staff person judged, based on personal belief, that a rape victim who declined emergency contraception medication was irresponsible, wrong, misguided, whatever, and then refused to assist the victim with further services, such as pre-natal care? Do you think that person should be able to avoid review of their conduct and actions, and continue to have responsibility for providing emergency medical services to sick and injured people?

I know you haven’t previously responded to follow-up communications from me, but I hope you will at least consider this point carefully, even if you don’t answer this.

Clyde Winter

No reply to this message was ever received From Rep. Gottlieb.

_______________________________________________________________________

On March 25, 2007, I sent the following to State Senator Alberta Darling and Assemblyman James Ott.

While I am not personally your constituent, I write for the Ozaukee News-Graphic, which is distributed and circulates in Mequon, which you represent. It is for that reason that I now inquire what your position is with regards to LRB 1387/3, the bill that would require hospitals providing emergency services in Wisconsin to provide access to information about, and availability of, emergency contraception to female victims of rape or incest.

Thank you for your consideration of, and reply to this inquiry.

Clyde Winter

_____________________________________________________________________


State Senator Alberta Darling failed to respond to my inquiries.
She voted for CCRV in May.

_____________________________________________________________________

On April 5, Representative James Ott replied to my persistent follow-up inquiry:

As I explained in my last note, it is difficult to give a definitive position on legislation that I have not seen or have not had sufficient time to study… So please take these comments into account on the issues you have inquired about.

LRB 1387/2. (In your note you said LRB 1387/3. I assume you meant /2 because I cannot find a /3)

I am pro-life, and I favor measures that help to decrease the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, and I certainly favor compassionate care for rape victims as well as severe penalties for perpetrators. As I read the bill in its present form I do not have any objections, other than that it may be somewhat broad, and may be subject to interpretations that go beyond the intent of the bill’s authors.

Of course it will have to go before a committee hearing and may have some adjustments and amendments. If I am satisfied with the final form of the bill, then I will vote in favor of this legislation, because from what I can tell now it sounds like a good idea.

________________________________________________________________

(Note from Clyde Winter, in March 2008)

The CCRV bill received final approval in the Assembly by a vote of 61 to 35 on Jan. 23, 2008. James Ott, along with Mark Gottlieb (A60), Daniel LeMahieu (A59), Pat Strachota (A58), and Glenn Grothman (S20) turned out to be among the less than one-third of Wisconsin legislators that voted against this bill that was approved by over 4 out of 5 Wisconsin citizens, and (after five years of blocking by Republican legislative “leaders”) was finally signed into law.

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8 Comments »

  1. Thanks, Clyde.

    Comment by Michelle — March 22, 2007 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for putting the letter together.
    This makes it easier and more likely for me and other to take some action.
    Have a good weekend.

    Comment by Marjie — March 22, 2007 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  3. I always enjoy your postings. Keep them coming!

    Comment by Andrea — March 23, 2007 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks for this Clyde. This is important.

    We should note that Sen Grothman was one of the people who introduced, and I’m still just shocked by this, AB 343: the bill that would have prohibited any UW System employee from discussing emergency contraception with any students.

    http://glenn-grothman-watch.blogspot.com/2006/08/glenn-grothman-wrong-on-morning-after.html

    Dodgy is as dodgy does, Mama always used to say.

    Comment by Mark P — March 27, 2007 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  5. Thank you, this is so useful — I am bookmarking your blog to make it a regular visit, especially to see if you get a reply from my state senator, Darling.

    I have heard that she used to serve on the board of Planned Parenthood! If so, she generally has made quite a switch in her positions and perspective — but I hope that she sees the light and truth of this bill, which is NOT about abortion. If she does not support this bill, I hereby promise to keep raising that throughout her next campaign, as she now will be facing our fine Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, an OB-GYN who always has represented us so well and certainly sees the sad result of such regressive stands on women’s issues.

    And as for AB 343, considering the high incidence of date rape on our UW campuses, Mr. Grothman ought to be severely castigated for his stand. He ought to see the repercussions of rape for so many women students who may not get all the counseling that they need and, even if they don’t get pregnant, see their grades drop and get dropped out of school. Maybe he could see the economic argument in such a waste of the taxpayers’ investment.

    Comment by Kay — June 5, 2007 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  6. I was wondering what the baby would say if they could speak about their impending doom – would they say; “Mommy, please don’t kill me, I promise I’ll be good”? Or would they say; “good job I really didn’t want to live and have to watch Barney and Mr Rogers anyway”?
    Just wondering!

    So many free choice folks used to deny that a baby even existed in utero. I never could understand that one. Did they believe that at the end of gestation a monkey or a horse or a fly would be born?- or did they really know that a human baby would be born?- Yes thats it! they knew but they couldn’t admit it because then they would have to acknowledge that they were in fact ending a baby’s life-God, what a revelation! I was conceived 8 weeks after my mother gave birth and I have no doubt that had my mother been in this country, I would not be writing this today. A scissors would have probably been “introduced” into the back of my brain and my brain would have been send on its merry way down the tubes Thank God for Catholic Ireland-that was. Thanks mom for keeping me.

    Comment by catherine — July 14, 2007 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  7. First, I recommend that you read Compassion for the Victims of Sexual Assault.

    Thank you for commenting on the dialog with state legislators reported here in “Emergency Contraception for Victims of Rape”.

    One point of relevant information, of which you may not be aware, is that emergency contraception, CANNOT and does not terminate an existing pregnancy. It must be provided within hours, and it can only PREVENT a pregnancy from occurring.

    So the question boils down to this. Do you think that a woman has no right to prevent a pregnancy from occurring once a male sperm enters a woman’s body, regardless of how it got there?

    This bill, if it is approved by a majority of the state Assembly, and signed by the (male) Governor, will prevent thousands of victimized women and girls from being forced to wait and see whether a pregnancy results from a rape assault, and will permit them to avoid making the terrible future choice between continuing or aborting such a pregnancy.

    However, the current (male) Majority Leader of the Assembly has assigned the bill to the completely irrelevant Judiciary Committee, where the (male) Chairman of that committee has vowed to hold no hearings on the bill, to allow no public or expert testimony, and to prevent it from getting an up-or-down vote on the floor of the full (predominantly male) Assembly.

    The bill should obviously be sent for hearings to the Public Health Committee. Unless, that is, you don’t even think the bill deserves to get a fair open hearing, and you don’t want the Assembly to even have an opportunity to vote on the bill, or the citizens to see how their representatives cast their votes.

    Your point about respect for life, and what defines life, is well made and well taken. Respect for life has many important implications. Getting rid of a single life when it is inconvenient happens more often to those most vulnerable. Unborn babies or little children. Elders. Sick, crippled, or injured persons. Poor, homeless people. Refugees and deportees. People who “don’t count” to the people who hold power, or to people who are morally blind.

    But even though you and I value our lives highly, we cannot possibly guarantee the “right to life” to every male sperm that is produced. There is infinitely more sperm produced than there are ova produced. It is only an extremely rare sperm that will ever get near an ovum, much less become a baby. And only a very tiny minority of all ova produced will become a baby. It is an understatement of incredible proportions to remind people that there are not enough women to carry all the pregnancies to term that are possible by mating all sperm with all ova. That’s how life works.

    Besides us both being fortunate that the pregnancies resulting in you and I were not aborted, we are even more lucky in both incredible and commonplace ways. Our existence is also due to the one-in-a-million odds that THAT one particular wiggling sperm from each of our daddies made it’s way to THAT particular one out of the hundreds of eggs carried by each of our mommies.

    We are also lucky we didn’t get run over by a car when we ran out into the street. We are lucky that we didn’t stick a fork in an electric outlet, and that we didn’t get sent off to die in a foreign war. Do you want to make a constitutional amendment against cars and forks and wars? We are lucky that (either in utero, or out) we didn’t get a fatal injury or infection or disease caused by preventable workplace hazards or environmental toxins, that some horrible creep didn’t kick or shoot our mother in the stomach, that she didn’t die of disease or starvation either before or after we were born, that we and our parents weren’t killed by a death squad in Guatemala or El Salvador or Chile or places in Asia or Europe or Africa. We are lucky that the hospital or home we were being born in, or the street or field we were playing, walking, or working in, wasn’t bombed by planes, artillery, or rockets sent by foreign invaders or the bullets, grenades, and IEDs of home-grown insurgents.

    We are indeed lucky to have the blessing of life.

    But aside from that, and getting back to the specific subject of the article on which you commented, are YOU (or are you not) saying that a girl or woman who is a victim of sexual assault should NOT be afforded information about, and timely access to emergency contraception to prevent a pregnancy from resulting from that assault, when she arrives at a hospital that is licensed to provide emergency medical care? Are you telling me that a girl or woman has NO RIGHT to prevent a pregnancy from occurring when a male sperm enters her body, regardless of how and why it is there?

    Comment by clydewinter — July 14, 2007 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  8. […] Wednesday the Wisconsin Assembly voted 56 to 41 in favor of the Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape bill, without amendments. Since that bill was overwhelmingly approved last spring by strong majorities of both parties in the State Senate 27 to 6, it will finally become law after a final reading in the Assembly and the Governor signs it, following five years of obstruction by a small but powerful faction. Thanks to all of you in the grassroots who persisted in struggling uphill for years, and to you who contacted your legislative representatives, your media, and your family, friends, and neighbors and urged them to support this bill. Over 80 percent of Wisconsin residents approve this bill, so it is about time.

    Pingback by Wisconsin Legislature Votes to Protect Rights of Victims of Violent Crime « hearts and minds — December 13, 2007 @ 8:03 am | Reply


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