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Shielding rape victims



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Miami Herald: The same Justice Department that draped cloth over a nude statue at its Washington headquarters has issued new rape-treatment guidelines that omit offering information about emergency contraception to victims of sexual attacks. The policy is wrongheaded and foolish. It could cause women to carry to full term unwanted pregnancies perpetrated by criminals.

Dozens of advocacy groups have complained to the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women about the omission of emergency contraception as an option for a rape victim to prevent getting pregnant by her attacker. What could be more humane than keeping a 15-year-old girl who is violently assaulted from becoming pregnant?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other major medical associations all support the use of emergency contraception if a rape victim seeks it. The so-called "morning after" pill is effective if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.

Lost from early draft

The trauma associated with rape is bad enough without having to deal with the emotional and physical consequences of an unwanted pregnancy, too. The advocacy groups say that the emergency-contraception option was included in an early draft of the new guidelines. Some charge that it was removed to pander to the pro-life lobby.

More than 300,000 women are raped every year in the United States. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America says that about 25,000 of the victims become pregnant. They have the right to be informed about all of their options in time to make responsible choices. The Justice Department policy would victimize women who have already suffered enough. The emergency-contraception option should be included in the guidelines.




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