A federal court ruled this week that a Florida woman could sue her local Sheriff's department because, after being raped, the woman was denied the second dosage of the morning after pill by a prison guard who objected to it. The woman, identified only as R.W., sought help at a clinic after being raped and was prescribed the pill as a precaution. When the police investigated the rape, they discovered an unrelated warrant for R.W.'s arrest and took her into custody. R.W. was then denied the second pill by a prison guard, Michele Spinelli, who said the pill violated her religious beliefs. Florida has a religious conscience clause, which allows health providers to deny certain treatments or procedures if they have moral objections.
US District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich had ruled in March that the sheriff was improperly named as a defendant, but yesterday, in response to a revised complaint, she ruled that the Sheriff, David Gee, could be sued. She wrote, "Gee, as the representative of the municipality, promulgated no policy on anticonceptive medication and provided no guidance or supervision to Spinelli on the matter. Given that some entity must set policy for the government in each situation, plaintiff has rendered plausible the claim that Spinelli was designated the final policy-maker with respect to her decision to withhold anti-conceptive medication for religious reasons."
Besides Florida, Maine and Tennessee also have refusal measures. Most recently, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a state law in May establishing a conscience clause in the state. This law specifically allows pharmacists to deny medication that they object to. Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Dakota also have laws that apply to pharmacists.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 6/27/12; Raw Story 6/26/12; Courthouse News Service 6/25/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/15/12
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment.
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .