A campaign theme of Martha Coakley, including television ads which started running yesterday, attacks Scott Brown for supposedly sponsoring a bill to deny medical care to rape victims.

In fact, Brown merely proposed a religious exemption which would exempt those with a religious belief against providing “emergency contraception” (the so-called “morning after pill” which prevents pregnancy) from having to do so provided they had a plan in place for the victim to get the contraception elsewhere at no extra cost.

If Coakley thinks this amounts to denying care to rape victims, then she needs to explain why she supports the Senate health care bill which has an even broader religious and “moral” exemption for abortions, even in the case of rape.

Here is the language proposed by Brown (h/t Ruby Slippers) with regard to whether a health care provider or hospital must provide emergency contraception (emphasis mine):

Nothing in this section shall impose any requirements upon any employee, physician or nurse of any facility to the extent that administering the contraception conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief. In determining whether an employee, physician or nurse of any facility has a sincerely held religious belief administering the contraception, the conflict shall be known and disclosed to said facility and on record at said facility.

If it is deemed that said employee, physician or nurse of any facility has a sincerely held religious conflict administering the contraception, then said treating facility shall have in place a validated referral procedure policy for referring patients for administration of the emergency contraception that will administer the emergency contraception, which may include a contract with another facility. The referrals shall be made at no additional cost to the patient.

Brown ended up voting for the legislation even without this amendment.

Here is the language in section 1302(a)(3) of the bill (at page 125) passed by the Senate on December 24 (emphasis mine), which Coakley says she supports:

PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS.—No individual health care provider or health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

The Senate language will provide protection for hospitals and doctors who, due to religious or moral beliefs (a broader exemption than Brown’s “religious beliefs” standard), refuse to provide abortions. This language is broad enough to provide an exemption even in the case of rape victims. This language also is not dependent upon whether the abortion service otherwise is allowed under the Hyde Amendment regarding federal funding of abortions.

Since Martha Coakley supports the Senate bill, does this mean Coakley wants to deny care to rape victims?

Update: This Photo May Change The Election

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Brown HQ Report #3

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