Rape survivor speaks out against Gov. Owens | SummitDaily.com

Rape survivor speaks out against Gov. Owens

Jennifer Harpersummit daily news

Summit Daily/Reid Williams

BRECKENRIDGE Twenty-year-old Teresa McMahons bright eyes turned dim the day she accepted a ride to the grocery store from a friend of a friend 10 years ago. She was a sophomore at Trenton State College in New Jersey.He said he needed to stop by his house, which made me uncomfortable, McMahon said. But I didnt listen to that little voice inside my head.She walked away from that ride forever changed. The friend of a friend raped her, and as she would discover, she was carrying the rapists child.Being young, you think the best of the world and that everyone has the best intentions for you, McMahon said. But its just not true.In November 2004, the Breckenridge resident sent a letter to the Summit Daily News regarding abortion and a womans right to choose.At the time, she wished not to have her name printed with her letter in hopes of protecting her husband, Mike, from being associated with a crime that didnt happen to him.However, with Mikes support, she had a change of heart, deciding to speak at a rally at the State Capitol in Denver this Friday protesting the governors veto of House Bill 1042 Emergency Contraception Information for Victims of Sexual Assault.The bill would have provided resources to rape victims about preventing pregnancy after an assault.I cant imagine God would send you to hell for thisMcMahon didnt go to the police after her attack, only telling her roommates what happened.I couldnt get my head around the fact that it wasnt my fault, she said.She told her parents only after she found out she was pregnant.I was going to have (the baby), McMahon said. I was Catholic and prolife. My mom was Catholic and prolife. My dad was prochoice.McMahons mother changed her stance after what happened to her daughter. Many of McMahons friends at school were also prolife at the time; however, after hearing her story, not one of them thought she should keep the baby.They said, I cant imagine God would send you to hell for this, McMahon said.She soon made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy and leave the Catholic Church.Her father went with her to the clinic that day as a crowd of protesters stood outside throwing rosary beads and screaming murderer at the young woman.He knew there was nothing he could do for me at that moment, McMahon said.Although McMahon didnt go to the hospital after her attack, she said she would have taken emergency contraception if she had known about it.Having an abortion on top of what had already happened to me I wouldnt wish that on my worst enemy, she said.When religion and the state collideHouse Bill 1042 vetoed by Gov. Owens, who is Catholic, would have required all health- care providers, including Catholic hospitals, in the state to offer information and referrals on how to get emergency contraception pills that allow rape victims to avoid pregnancy.Dana Berry, spokeswoman for St. Anthony/Centura Health, said rape victims are offered counseling at Centura facilities.Summit Medical Center in Frisco and the new hospital under construction are both entities of St. Anthony/Centura Health, a faith-based health care organization formed by Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health System.According to Berry, emergency contraception may be considered at St. Anthony/Centura medical facilities after women undergo certain procedures, including a pregnancy test to insure the victim is not pregnant, a medical assessment to see if the medication can be administered early enough to prevent ovulation and information given to the patient regarding the risks and benefits of taking emergency contraception.Berry said St. Anthony/Centuras concern over the bill was that it didnt take into consideration the organizations religious stance regarding contraception and abortion.St. Anthony/Centura wanted an amendment or clause that would allow health-care institutions to use their own definition of pregnancy, which can differ from the state definition.Go to Plan BWhile emergency contraception like Plan B and Preven have only been around for the last few years, doctors were prescribing their own form of it prior to its development by giving patients two doses of 10 birth control pills for one day, according to Dr. Alan Dulit, a gynecologist and obstetrician at Summit OB/GYN.Im somewhat confused as to why its a hot topic (in the Legislature) right now, Dulit said. I think its a wonderful option for patients to have.Dulit said taking emergency contraception reduces the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex from 15 percent to 3 percent.He noted that one of the objections to the pills is that they are an abortive procedure. Dulit said theres no good data that supports this claim. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation a few days until the sperm in the uterus has died.The pill may be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex; however, the sooner the medication is taken, the better the chances are for preventing pregnancy.Some people believe that the emergency contraception pills do more than stave off pregnancy, saying that the medication could flush a fertilized egg out of the womans uterus.Emergency contraception will not disrupt an existing pregnancy, said Crystal Clinkenbeard, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. If a woman is already pregnant, it wont cause a miscarriage.Emergency contraception meets all of the Food and Drug Administrations requirements for an over-the-counter medication, although it is only sold by prescription.It appears to me that not making this information available to patients is more of a political decision as opposed to a medical decision, Dulit said.McMahon said before her assault, she was closed-minded toward these issues.I understand what (the governor and some legislators) are saying, because I used to be them, she said.She now believes that the separation of church and state is a valuable part of government, and everyone has their own moral compass in life.Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is one of the organizations that will be at Fridays rally to protest the veto of House Bill 1042 and encourage legislators to override the governors veto.Two-thirds of Colorados House of Representatives and two-thirds of the State Senate are needed to override the veto.Really, (the veto) was one person standing in the way of a bipartisan effort to support rape victims, Clinkenbeard said. By vetoing House Bill 1042, Gov. Owens turned his back on rape victims, but we wont.We will continue fighting to make sure that rape survivors receive the compassionate medical care they deserve.Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of emergency contraception in the country.We know that if emergency contraception were more widely used, it would prevent up to half of abortions in the United States, Clinkenbeard said. Emergency contraception is just that contraception and not abortion.McMahon will be speaking at the rally to be held on the west steps of the Capitol building at noon Friday.Im speaking at the rally to … help somebody and show them that theres an end to the tunnel, McMahon said. I want to let them know that youre going to be OK.Jennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at jharper@summitdaily.com.LINKS: Teresa McMahon’s original anonymous letter:http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20041111/LETTER/111110015&SearchID;=73205952337886Owens response letter:http://www.colorado.gov/governor/press/april05/1042.htmlRally info: http://ppportal.siegelc.com/pp2/rmnts/files/rmnts/getinvolved/HB1042.xml

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