December 7, 2005
Emergency contraception in Romneyland
If you’re on the religious right and run a Massachusetts hospital, you’re apparently beyond the law:
The state Department of Public Health has determined that Catholic and other privately-run hospitals in Massachusetts can opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections, despite a new law that requires all hospitals who treat such victims to provide them with emergency contraception.
… The ruling, which the department plans to outline to hospital CEOs in a letter this week, says the new law applies to all hospitals but does not nullify a statute passed years ago that says privately-run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.
… The new law, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature this summer over the objections of Governor Mitt Romney, takes effect next week. Backers of the measure yesterday said the department’s decision is evidence that Romney, who said during his 2002 campaign that he supported broader access to emergency contraception, is actually fighting to undermine it.
But Romney isn’t getting home free:
Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, the state’s top law enforcement official and a Democratic candidate for governor next year, criticized the Department of Public Health decision yesterday.
‘‘We believe the law is clear and that it applies to all hospitals,” Reilly said in a statement. ‘‘We expect all hospitals to follow the law.”
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