Massachusetts Governor to Allow Catholic Hospitals Plan B Exemption

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Massachusetts Governor to Allow Catholic Hospitals Plan B Exemption Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 6, 2005

Boston, MA ( — Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts fought a measure in the state legislature that would have required them to violate their religious beliefs and distribute the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion. However, Gov, Mitt Romney plans to give them an exemption when the law takes effect next week.

Catholic and other privately run hospitals will not have to provide the Plan B drugs to rape victims, as the law requires, under regulations the Romney administration will hand down.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the governor supports exempting Catholic and private hospitals because it "respects the views of health care facilities that are guided by moral principles on this issue."

That could prompt a lawsuit by abortion advocates who want to mandate use the drug.

However, Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote told the Associated Press that the new law can’t trump another state law that says private hospitals can’t be forced to perform abortions or provide contraception.

"We feel very clearly that the two laws don’t cancel each other out, and basically work in harmony with each other," Cote explained.

Cote said the new regulations would be handed down December 14, but pro-abortion groups criticized the decision.

Angus McQuilken, public affairs director for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, told AP, "Rape victims shouldn’t have to worry about the affiliation of a hospital when they go to an emergency room or are brought there by an ambulance to receive necessary care."

Attorney General Thomas Reilly, a Democrat who backs abortion and may be charged with defending the policies of the governor, who is a Republican, also criticized the move.

"We believe the law is clear and that it applies to all hospitals," Reilly said in a statement. "We expect all hospitals to follow the law."

The state legislature overrode a veto by Romney to approve the law.

According to the AP report, seven other states that have laws forcing hospitals to dispense the Plan B drugs do not have exemptions for religious facilities.