State Senate votes to provide Plan B to rape victims in Catholic hospitals

The Connecticut Senate voted Wednesday to pass an amended version of a bill to provide emergency contraception to rape victims in hospitals, with changes aimed at appeasing the state’s four Catholic hospitals.

According to new language in the bill — which was passed by a voice, rather than a roll-call, vote — Catholic hospitals would be able to contract third-party professionals to distribute the drug, commonly known as Plan B, to rape victims. Proponents of the bill told news sources they expect the changes to make the bill more acceptable to the Catholic hospitals, whose leaders had expressed concerns about the conflict between their objection to abortion and laws requiring them to dispense Plan B.

The bill will also forbid Catholic hospitals to require patients to take ovulation tests before they can be prescribed the drug. But the bill allows for hospitals to require pregnancy tests before administering emergency contraception to prevent it from being given to pregnant women.

The Connecticut Catholic Conference has sent the proposal to an ethicist with the National Catholic Bioethics Center and has not yet formally approved the plan. Legislators have told news sources that they expect the bill to be acceptable to the hospitals but did not want to wait much longer to pass the legislation.

The revised bill has been sent back to the Public Health Committee for review. The bill will then have to be approved by the House and signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

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