Colorado Governor Bill Owens (R) vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have required all hospitals to inform rape victims about emergency contraception. Owens, a Roman Catholic, claimed that the bill would have forced church-backed institutions to violate their own ethics guidelines, reports the Associated Press. The bill, HB 1042, which passed 46-19 and 22-13 in the state House and Senate, respectively, would have allowed individual health care workers with moral or religious objections to refrain from informing women about emergency contraception (EC), but would have required them to refer patients to another health professional who would discuss contraception options, reports the Kaiser Network. State Representative Terrance Carroll (D) argued that Owens had misconstrued the legislation’s intent. “This was not about abortion, it was not about freedom, it was about women who were raped,” reports TheDenverChannel.com.
Lawmakers tried to attach an amendment to exclude Catholic hospitals, but the bill’s sponsors, Representative Betty Boyd (D-CO) and Senator Jennifer Veiga (D-CO), refused, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Boyd and Veiga pointed out that rape victims do not always have a choice about where they go for treatment.
Republican supporters of the bill argued that studies have shown 50 percent of women who are raped and become pregnant have an abortion, reports the Rocky Mountain News. EC, which can be taken up to five days after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy, would presumably lower these statistics. “This bill was about providing compassionate care to women who have been sexually assaulted,” said Beth Ganz, head of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “The governor clearly put politics ahead of women’s health and lives,” reports Rocky Mountain News.