Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Can't Trust Rape Victims In The ER

A Denver Post article includes a report of a statement made by a state senator about those who go to the ER after rape which may stun people, but the view behind the comment doesn't stun me at all.

[Colorado state Sen. David Schultheis-R] stunned a roomful of people in a Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing recently when he asked the sponsor of a bill requiring hospitals to give information on emergency contraception to rape victims how doctors "determine that a person actually did incur that sexual assault. Are they going to take the word of that individual?" asked Schultheis. "You could see individuals coming in that just wanted to make sure that last night's stand didn't result in a pregnancy and basically say that they had been a sexual assault" to get the contraceptive. (emphasis mine)

Talk about showing your true colors. His concern isn't for rape victims, his concern is that as many women as possible are denied access to emergency contraception.

How dare people treat those who say they've been raped with respect and dignity!

His comment reveals a key problem with any law that restricts access to birth control or abortion or any other sex-related service to rape victims. Bigotry over who is seen as a real rape victim.

Rape victims already face too much backlash when they dare to report rape to the police, but if this state senator had his way, the assumption that she's a self-serving liar would begin in the ER and within hours of the rape.

I wish it were only unfounded paranoia that has me imagining a real rape victim getting EC and then becoming the target of an official who refuses to accept that this woman could be a real rape victim. That might happen because the rape victim decided not to report her rape to the police or it might be because the police decided the rape victim wouldn't be a credible witness in court or it could be because a real rapist was found not guilty.

If I saw these same people pursue rapists with this same diligance, I might give them a little slack when they make comments like this but those who assume vast numbers of women lie about rape tend to be the same ones who excuse rapists by focusing on whether the woman said no with sufficient force to convince the rapist that she really meant no.

To ensure that all rape victims can get EC, any woman who goes into an ER requesting emergency contraceptives should be given EC with no morality check on whether the woman deserves EC.

Ask and she should receive. Period. No excuses allowed to deny women EC.

The reaction by other state senators focused on issues of honesty and statistics related to how few false rape reports are made, but those issues have nothing to do with this man's statement. His statement had everything to do with women bashing and nothing to do with logic.

Asked later what he was thinking, Schultheis said he couldn't remember the context. "I'm in a hurry. I have another meeting," he said, racing off.
This response shows how much people like this rely on a mob mentality to give them the gall to demand unreasonable treatment of those who report rape. It also shows how much difference it can make when people don't let statements like Sen. Schultheis made go unchallenged.

It's interesting that Sen. Schultheis backs a religious bill of rights that doesn't similarly demand proof within the bill that students are truly living their stated religious beliefs before they can ask for anything from their public school or sue on the basis of religious discrimination. If religious students get special rights how do we know students who demand those rights aren't lying about the depth and sincerity of their faith to get what they don't deserve?

Frankly, he gives Christians a bad reputation as being self-absorbed bigots who are willing to look the other way as girls and women are raped while demanding that he and those like him can do anything they want simply because they identify themselves as Christian.

He doesn't expect anyone to take the word of those who say they are religious, does he? If proof is needed from those who go to the ER after rape, it must be needed from those who aren't crime victims. Otherwise, what are we to think about his moral standards?

My recommendation for all of you who live in Colorado is to contact Sen. Schultheis' office and tell his staff you have no tolerance for his anti-victim position.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:35 AM   1 comments links to this post


At February 19, 2007 7:36 AM, Blogger The Speaker said...

"If a man comes into the emergency room bleeding from a gun shot wound to his stomach- should he be required to pass a test indicating he didn't somehow cause his own wounds - before treating him?


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