The Massachusetts Senate race is getting the headlines on Drudge. Hmm…makes me wonder what’s going on, when a state most famous for it’s welfare and compassion might vote for a Republican. Yes, I’m old enough to remember Romney and Senator Brooke, but they are the exception to the rule.

The funniest line in the race this year comes from the YOUTUBE video linked to by Drudge: when a political commentator asked the Republican candidate about what he would do if elected to Kennedy’s seat, and he answered:

With all due respect, it’s not the Kennedy seat and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.

Heh. Someone who can pick up press bias, and counter it with a soundbite that will make him famous. And he did it without a teleprompter. “Who wudda thot?”

But  something must be going on, because the Democratic candidate is now pushing the spin that the Republican candidate would deny care to patients who were raped.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The amendment that was proposed by Brown was one that allowed physicians, staff, and hospitals to refuse to give medicine to abort a child conceived at rape.

It’s about the ability of a physician to refuse to go against the Hippocratic oath, which until 1970 instructed physicians not to give medicines to induce abortions.

It’s about Catholic hospitals being forced to give medicine whose only aim is to end life, essentially mandating them to kill a fetus, or at least refer the woman to get her fetus killed.

Several things need to be noted.

One, when given within 24 hours, the “morning after pill” may indeed be contraceptive, since it probably stops ovulation or fertilization. But you have to make sure she isn’t already pregnant first, either from the rape or from an earlier episode of intercourse.

“A woman who has been raped should be able to defend herself from a potential conception and receive treatments to suppress ovulation and incapacitate sperm. If conception has occurred, however, a Catholic hospital will not dispense drugs to interfere with implantation of a newly conceived human embryo.”

“Hospitals should develop appropriate protocols to determine whether administering emergency contraception would have an abortifacient effect. Tests are available to determine whether ovulation has occurred.”

“Pro-Life Activities: Fact Sheet: Emergency Contraception and Treatment of Victims of Sexual Assault,” U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at:

But now some physicians are being told to use it up to five days after intercourse, which does not stop ovulation or fertilization, but aborts (sometimes) the developing blastocyst by changing the uterine lining.

And I should note that other Catholics argue that even when given early, the result is sometimes it could abort the fetus and should not allowed at all.

Myself? I have given them out a few times for true rape victims, but not after 24 hours and not for date rape or broken condoms or for “I forgot to take my birth control pill so if I say I was raped, will you give it to me?”.

In such cases, you use medical judgment and follow your conscience. Like the bishop’s instructions, it’s nuanced (most things are in Catholicism). I gave it to stop ovulation of a woman who was not pregnant, but only if the chance that it could abort an early pregnancy was very low.

But once you “mandate” giving out the pill, it means ignoring all those pesky nuances like medical judgment and ethics. “Mandate” means giving it to any woman demanding it, and this quickly morphs into mandating early abortion as a normal medical treatment.

And if you can mandate this, you can mandate Catholic hospitals to do anything.

Strangely,  Coakley’s commercial was posted at youtube, but has since been removed., instead of reporting on the twisting of the language by Coakley’s ad, echoes the propaganda.

The dispute is over a 2005 amendment that Scott Brown sponsored in the state Senate. The amendment would have allowed a doctor, nurse or hospital to deny rape victims an emergency contraceptive if it “conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief.”

Yes. It’s about the conscience clause. won’t admit it (they use the word “contraceptive” not the more correct term “abortifacient”).

 Medical World News is more accurate. Their headline notes:

Mass. Senate Candidates Sharpen Differences On Abortion In Race To Succeed Kennedy

So its about abortion, and it’s about if Coakley’s position that it’s okay to use the law to force Catholic hospitals to give out abortion pills.

And it’s about if Coakley would vote for a federal health care bill that also would mandate abortion coverage using taxpayer money, or if she would vote for a health care bill that would allow the federal bureaucracy to use federal mandates to coerce medical personnel and medical institutions to include abortion coverage (and in the future, euthanasia coverage) as a normal part of routine health care.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. She writes about medicine at Hey Doc Xanga Blog.

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