Monday, February 21, 2011

Urgent Action Alert: OPPOSE SB 218 on emergency contraception

Urgent action is needed to oppose Hawaii Senate Bill 218, which would require that hospitals offer emergency contraception (aka the "morning after pill") to all sexual assault victims.

Victims of rape and intimate partner violence need compassionate care, however, emergency contraception could actually harm the very women it is intended to help by causing nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness, dizziness, fluid retention, abdominal pain and irregular bleeding. Depending on when it is taken, emergency contraception can also result in early abortion. The bill does not specifically require that patients be informed of these risks to obtain informed consent. We believe that women deserve better.

Another problem with this bill is that it does not provide a healthcare right of conscience exception for hospitals or individuals who object to offering emergency contraception for medical, ethical, moral, or religious reasons. Those who refuse face penalties by state government and could risk discipline from their own employers.

This sets a dangerous precedent by allowing the government to mandate what healthcare providers must do, violating individuals' constitutional rights and in effect practicing medicine. Patients will ultimately suffer as healthcare providers set aside their own best judgment and follow governmental requirements or leave the practice of medicine rather than violate their own consciences.

***We urge you to contact the senate judiciary committee members and submit online testimony by Wednesday, February 23 to voice your opposition to the bill, which would receive taxpayer funding.***

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