DoJ rape guidelines drops info on emergency contraception.

Seems the U.S. Department of Justice finally got around to issuing some medical guidelines for the treatment of rape victims that is missing information on emergency contraception, one of the standard precautions used to prevent pregnancy after a sexual assault, even though that information was included in an early draft.

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.

For two weeks, Justice officials were unavailable to talk about the new 141-page protocol, published in September. But in an e-mail, department spokesman Eric Holland reiterated points made in the document.

“The goals of the protocol are to ensure that all victims, regardless of differences in background or location of service, receive the same high quality medical and forensic exam, while being treated with respect and compassion, and to improve prosecution of sexual assault cases through the appropriate collection of evidence,” he wrote. “The protocol is not intended to supersede the many state, local, and tribal protocols that are currently in practice.”

Lynn Schollet, a lawyer with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said 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.

In the half-page on pregnancy “risk evaluation and care,” the protocol says to take victims’ pregnancy fears “seriously,” give a pregnancy test, and “discuss treatment options, including reproductive health services.”

Apparently there are some folks out there who feel that if a woman who is raped is unfortunate enough to become pregnant from it then she should be forced to go through with the pregnancy:

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).

“I think it’s very smart not to put that in the guidelines,” said Dr. George Isajiw, a board member of Physicians for Life, a Philadelphia anti-abortion group.

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.”

So here we are again with another official set of government guidelines with the most important bit censored by our friends on the Religious Right.

26 thoughts on “DoJ rape guidelines drops info on emergency contraception.

  1. In other words, a woman has a right to defend herself against an aggressor until he actually manages to get tab p into slot v, at which point she isn’t allowed to defend her internal organs any more.  An aggressor can only be fought if it’s on the outside of your body.

    If I were an extremist, I would point out that this completely validates the use of rape in war to shame and compromise women and create more of the aggressor’s genetic kin and therefore his ethnic dominance.  Good work, “Christians.”

  2. GRRRRR. Time for those of us who oppose this mentality that tax paying adult women have fewer rights than a handful of cells to start speaking out and making ourselves heard.

  3. I hope it also includes some method that forces the rapist to financially subsidise the child’s upbringing should the rape result in a pregnancy. To expect a woman to have to go through with a rape-induced preganancy is bad enough, but it’s worse if she has no financial means to bring the baby up after it has been born.

    Of course, unless she’s married, she’d become another hated figure of the religious right – the single mother. You really can’t win, can you?

  4. This is a bit of a tangent, but I think the Catholic church’s opposition to contraception is nuts.  I have no idea why they hold the one or two passages that tell people to be “fruitful” to be of such importance.  Also I’m not sure why they think “fruitful” only applies to procreation rather than some other creative enterprise.  Also, I can’t understand why they oppose contraception so adamantly but turn a blind eye to sculpting.  The second commandment clearly prohibits sculpting, while none of the rules of the decalogue refer to contraception at all.

  5. Love the fetus with out any thought for the well being of the mothers and (probably) unwanted children – all in the name of the sanctity of human life. Begs the question of whose.

    The article provided some statistics that provide a worst case projection. (A few states require that hospital provide access to contraception.)

  6. 300,000 sexual assaults per year (based on 1998)

  7. 5% chance of pregnancy

  8. 25,000 pregnancies

  9. 22,00 of which would be avoidable
  10. (The article represented the last two numbers as 1998 actuals and are not consistent with their probability statistic.) 

    Niel T, No such luck. That would require taking the long view.

  11. none of the rules of the decalogue refer to contraception at all

    According to them the Sixth (or is it 7th?) Commandment does; “You shall not commit adultery”.

    This is the problem I have with liberals. They seem to think abortion is no big deal, however I’m with them in this sort of case, and only in this case should abortion be legal.

    And as stated above, it is impossible to win. You get raped, you can’t have abortion, you can’t give the kid up for adoption (because according to them that leads to incest), and you can’t be a single mother.

    This is as nasty as it gets.

    says the man whose gravatar appears just as nasty (is that what I think it is?). smile

  12. says the man whose gravatar appears just as nasty (is that what I think it is?).

    No, Bo$$, it ain’t.

    WHAT where you thinking of? Thats the problems I have with conservative people. They never come right out.

    We have already established that the thing in Zilchs Gravatar is his smoking weed, havested of socialist Sumatra.

    On my personal views: I oppose abortion, and favor the right to it. I would not want a girl ever to abort any kid of mine even if conception was totally accidential and I could barely afford or manage a kid (like right now). But I would see the kid as my responsibility anway.

    That said, I think even in cases less extreme as the ones we are are talking about here, there should be a choice for the woman. It remains a tricky case just when it’s too late for an abortion because the embryo is a real human, but I won’t join the black and white crowd on this matter either.

  13. That was meant to be tongue-in-cheek (in fact, I thought it was a pile of seaweed), and I am not a conservative. Nor am I a liberal. In fact, my Political Compass puts me almost exactly in the middle. I don’t believe God created the earth, or that Public Schools should teach that. In fact, abortion is the only thing that the RR is right about, because saying a woman has the right to choose and it’s ok if she says so is the same thing as saying people have the right to kill people. It doesn’t make sense.

  14. a cluster of 32 cells does not equate to a living human being, just like a stack of steel beams, and a pile of rocks and sand does not equal an Apartment building.

  15. a cluster of 32 cells does not equate to a living human being, just like a stack of steel beams, and a pile of rocks and sand does not equal an Apartment building.

    It’s not like that. Like it or not, life begins at conception.

  16. It’s not like that. Like it or not, life begins at conception.

    Fallacy. Both the sperm AND the egg are already alive before they ever meet. Therefore life begins…

    Chicken and Egg ALERT! Chicken and Egg ALERT!

    Or to say it with Monty Python: “NOT Every Sperm is sacred! NOT Every Sperm is holy!”

  17. Sigh. OBVIOUSLY, the blockquote should close after ‘conception’.

    Les, if you have time, maybe look into coding a ‘blockquote’ button into the page. You’d help me in my late-night postings. Thanks!

  18. Before everybody gets too worked up, if you read the article, the document from which this information is missing is a DOJ document.  This is not a document put together by the AMA, JAMA, FDA or any MEDICAL PROVIDER for that matter.  Again, it is the Department of Justice.

    Now, what could possibly be the purpose for DOJ putting together a document regarding medical protocol?  The PRIMARY PURPOSE for this document is to ensure that there is a chain of custody protocol to make federal prosecutions easier.  The purpose of the protocol is NOT to regulate patient care.  Its purpose is to establish the chain of cusody necessary to authenticate the physical evidence that prosecutors will introduce in the courtroom. 

    Regards,

  19. Women should debate and decide.

    Since women aren’t fully respected yet….men think they can decide for them. I think this is wrong from the start.
    There is nothing beautiful in stopping a pregnancy and women who do it often feel the sadness of it for the rest of their lives.
    It’s a hard decision but sometimes necessary for the sake of survival.
    It is very easy to speculate on what we would or wouldn’t do when it is not happening for real.

    If some of us say we can send troops overseas to kill thousands of innocent people and think out loud “It had to be done” Well I am sure then that women deserve the right to deal with the abortion issue on their own.
    If most of the world can say there is too many people on the planet…well I think everybody has heard the answer to this one.
    Oh! yeah , before I forget…to all the religious facist purist little rednecks outthere….Your god gave mankind the ability to perform such interventions “abortions” since a while now. so If you don’t like the idea….just don’t do it.

  20. reproductive health services

    Isn’t it possible that abortion is one of these services?  A referral to reproductive health services sounds like a referral to an ObGyn.  Who could probably hand a victim a “morning after” pill on the spot.

    Or is my reading too optomistic?

  21. I think murder is a big word here…A word with a goal to convince.
    See, my version of what you are saying would sound a bit more like “a very unpleasant sacrifice”. Mostly because there is no violence or hatred surrounding the event.

    Again, if you send your soldiers to war and by chance they happen to be victorious…would you call them “murderers”

  22. It’s not like that. Like it or not, life begins at conception.

    Says who?  English common law says that Life begins at birth not conception.

  23. Mr. D, Technically you may be right, but the law made a distinction between the beginning of life and quickening – the point at which the fetus gained legal protection.

    Here is a quote from a long article on that subject at.

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/SFL/quickening.htm

    The purpose of this paper, then, is to trace the intellectual developments which gave rise to the English common law view that quickening was the point in gestation at which the unborn child reached a legally-protectable stage, and to follow the judicial and statutory use of quickening through its heyday and into the era of modern embryology. Parts II and III will demonstrate how Biblical interpretation led the Church to adopt Aristotle’s natural philosophy of fetal development and how the Church Fathers’ resulting philosophies, which underlay the Canon law, framed Western ideas of self-definition and gestation. Parts IV and V show how Canon Law influenced Anglo-Saxon-based views of gestation so as to foster the English legal concept of quickening. Part VI traces the continued evolution of natural philosophy toward modern science, which toppled the Aristotelian establishment and discredited the quickening concept, replacing it with conception. Part VII then demonstrates the ways in which concurrent legal changes reflected this shift, and how *201 common law policy, established under the “quickening” paradigm, properly applies in this new scientific context. Part VIII then analyzes the Roe opinion from this historical perspective.

  24. I have to echo Consigliere and Nowiser—the document clearly (as blockquoted in the post) addresses providing the woman with counselling and pregnancy testing, and give reference to medical resources including “reproductive health services” (which usually means Planned Parenthood or some other ObGyn clinic). 

    Suggesting a specific course of treatment in a Justice Department protocol probably would be inappropriate.  Consider, for a moment, how a woman who didn’t believe in abortion would feel if law enforcement officials were telling her she should go have one?

    I have no problem with a woman who does make such a decision, but I agree that spelling that suggestion out in this document is probably not a good idea.

  25. Mr. D, Technically you may be right, but the law made a distinction between the beginning of life and quickening – the point at which the fetus gained legal protection.

    Actually i think i fail to make my point correctly so i will say it another way.

    Just because you say life begins at conception does not make it so.

  26. ***Dave: Suggesting a specific course of treatment in a Justice Department protocol probably would be inappropriate.  Consider, for a moment, how a woman who didn’t believe in abortion would feel if law enforcement officials were telling her she should go have one?

    I have no problem with a woman who does make such a decision, but I agree that spelling that suggestion out in this document is probably not a good idea.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the document under consideration here is a protocol consisting of medical guidelines for the treatment of rape victims, including the discussion of health risks and possible pregnancy.

    If you ask me, it is a serious lapse to not mention abortion as an option for the rape victim.  Of course the women should not be told to go get an abortion, but she should be informed of all options, as compassionately and sensitively as possible.

    As I understand it, the whole point of this set of guidelines was not to supercede any other set of protocols, but to ensure that rape victims are all given the best treatment possible.  Sometimes the best treatment will include abortion.  Why should it not be mentioned here?

    And as far as the abortion question in general-  when does life start, and when is it wrong to end life?- I’m afraid that can be debated till the cows come home, and we’ll still have no answer, because there are no lines here, no matter how hard we look.  Just unavoidably hard decisions.

  27. And as far as the abortion question in general- when does life start, and when is it wrong to end life?- I’m afraid that can be debated till the cows come home, and we’ll still have no answer, because there are no lines here, no matter how hard we look.  Just unavoidably hard decisions.

    Well said.  And just to add my own personal opinion, I feel that as long as it lives inside the woman’s body, it remains under her jurisdiction.  Period.  I also don’t believe that a fetus is a person or that it should have ANY legal rights outside of the person carrying it.  To the question of late term abortions, no sane woman is going to stay pregnant for 6,7,8 months and then suddenly decide to end it on a whim.  Anybody who stays pregnant for that long usually wants to be and the decision to end it will be for a damn good reason. And I say this as a woman 4 months pregnant with my second child (and my toddler is at this moment sitting on my lap).  A pregnancy that I CHOSE and want, which is the way it should be.

  28. Is opposition to abortion just composed of conservatives against a new technology, or an age old problem that has been dealt with and argued over throughout long millenia of medical science?

    Is the constipation (NOT controversy) over abortion a disagreement over the ultimate role of women in society or over the ultimate role of life itself in society?

    Is the argument over a stupid definition, or over a transcendental idea?

                  —Commander Puffin

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