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
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.
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:
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!
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.
On March 21, 2007, Sen. Grothman’s Assistant, Jolene Churchill wrote:
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.
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”.
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:
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.
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?
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]
On Mar 22, 2007, at 4:01 PM, Rep.Gottlieb wrote:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.