Thursday, March 31, 2005
Today's installment in our ongoing coverage of the intensifying battle over health care providers and moral agency comes from Colorado, where the legislature has passed a bill that would require Catholic hospitals to provide information and referrals to rape victims that would allow them to "avoid pregnancy."
The Denver Post's article (thanks to Open Book) provides a provocative angle from the start, evidenced by the opening line: "Gov. Bill Owens faces a test of his Catholic faith." Apparently, this bill could only be objectionable to a Catholic politician. Potential concerns over institutional autonomy are simply distractions, it seems, from the primary obstacle: Catholic hang-ups about abortion and contraception.
The Post's strange phrasing, however, is nothing compared to the terms of the legislative debate:
[D]uring debate on the floor of the House Tuesday, Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, said that the bill was about medicine, not religion.
"We don't take rape victims to a church," he said. "We take them to a hospital (which has) ... a commitment to provide the best and most complete treatment to anyone who shows up."
Usually politicians who seek the privatization of religion aren't so explicit about it. Representative Pommer makes it plain that it would be permissible for the Catholic Church to adhere to its beliefs inside the physical church building itself, but once we step outside those walls, all bets are off.