08 May 2005

What I did today

Happy Mother's Day!

I just wrote a letter. Here it is:

To Bill Owens, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792

May 8, 2005

Open letter to Colorado Governor Bill Owens:

In Searching for Angela Shelton, someone demanded, “So what are you doing today to stop it?” about sexual abuse. Every day something happens and I have a chance to say, I am doing something about it. Do you sleep a little deeper each night knowing you too have stood for what is right? Righted the kinds of wrongs you dreamed of when you first knew you wanted to be a leader? I have been sleeping well lately, and I recommend it.

Just now a fellow called (from Boston, made me chuckle inside) on behalf of Planned Parenthood’s Rocky Mountain chapter and I just pledged to cover a lobbyist’s cab to the airport, I suppose. But I also spoke at length with the fundraiser about House Bill 1042, which as you know would allow health care providers to withhold treatment from survivors of sexual abuse.

And immediately I could imagine myself in that situation, stumbling across a set of automatic doors, in shock from the most horrendous violation of one’s very life imaginable (try imagining it and see what I mean). At that crushing and terrible moment, when the only thing I needed was an “Everything’s going to be all right, miss,” from a competent and caring professional who could give me the necessary drugs to prevent this heinous act from becoming any more devastating than it already is. Allow yourself to feel just an inkling of the shame and misery that would most likely deter this woman -- or child -- from seeking help anywhere else ever again, much less some other pharmacy, clinic, or hospital.

If you think of this is a right-to-life issue, think again.

Should a mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend, or grandmother, or friend of yours ever face the decision whether to bear the offspring that was a product of a rape, you might be personally touched by this woman’s plight. Surely you know in your heart that for the women themselves and their families, the children who result may not be greeted with pure love and joy. Think about those lives and consider carefully who needs their rights in this situation.

I hope you find it in your heart to empathize with these abused women and pass Colorado HB 1042 to force an acceptable minimum standard of care: In sexual trauma cases, providers must inform women of all of their options and offer emergency contraception, something that some of those women will need at this moment like no other. Another woman will be raped and walk into a Boulder or Denver or Pueblo or Delta or Sterling hospital today. Will she be turned away in her moment of need, or will she be taken care of?

Rape is an act you cannot afford to perpetuate by inflicting parenthood on women who have just been forced to come to terms with their own violation of basic human dignity. Vote yes on HB 1042 to respect the profound need for women to make their own decisions in times of crisis.

The public is on your side if you do, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America:

· In a 2002 poll, 85% of Colorado voters supported the availability of EC in the ER for victims of rape and incest.

· Over 80% of all Americans believe emergency health care facilities should NOT be allowed to deny EC to a woman who is sexual assaulted, regardless of the hospital’s religious affiliation.

· Nearly 80% of women in the U.S. would prefer that their community emergency health care facility provide EC to rape victims.

Sincerely yours,

Risë Anne Keller

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