Back to All Commentary

Letter: Emergency Contraception In Hospital Emergency Rooms (Albany Times-Union)

To the Editor:

Peter Ranalli (Letter, May 26, 2003) is way off base when he claims that a bill ensuring that hospital emergency rooms provide rape survivors with emergency contraception (EC) somehow unconstitutionally infringes on the freedom of religiously affiliated hospitals. The New York Civil Liberties Union is a staunch defender of religious liberty; however, we believe that a hospital’s religious objections to EC must not imperil a rape survivor’s access to timely and comprehensive treatment.

When a hospital opens its doors to the general public, it treats patients of diverse faiths and is in the business of providing health care, not religious services. Moreover, emergency rooms – whether religiously affiliated or not – are ethically and morally obligated to offer the best care possible to everyone who comes through their doors in need of care. A rape survivor is often taken to a hospital by the police or emergency medical technicians. Under these conditions, most women lack the time, information, and opportunity to assess a given hospital’s EC policy and ask to be taken to a facility that provides EC. Nor should she be expected to do so after surviving such a brutal crime.

Far from being tyrannical, requiring hospitals to provide EC to rape survivors is compassionate and sound public policy that protects the ability of patients to access critical care. An institution’s religious affiliation should not be allowed to come between a rape survivor and her health care needs.


Rebekah Diller
Director, Reproductive Rights Project
New York Civil Liberties Union

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union