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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Owens urged to sign rape bill
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News
March 30, 2005

Some Republicans launched a full-court press on the governor Tuesday, bombarding him with petitions, postcards and phone calls in support of a bill requiring hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception to rape victims.

Republican Gov. Bill Owens has the option of signing the bill into law, letting it become law without his signature or vetoing it. He hasn't made a decision, a spokesman said.

During a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol, backers of House Bill 1042 asked for Owens' support.

"It should be the survivor's decision, not the government's, whether to take emergency contraception," said Amanda Mountjoy, spokeswoman for the Colorado Republican Majority for Choice.

"As a fellow Republican and one of his constituents, I urge Gov. Owens to sign this bill into law," she said.

Although the bill was approved by the Democratic-controlled legislature, it has support from some conservative Republicans, including Rep. Lynn Hefley of Colorado Springs and Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial. They say the bill is about preventing pregnancies and providing information.

Other Republicans disagree.

"It is not solely contraception," said Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. "It is abortion in the eyes of many people in Colorado. This is a very dangerous step."

The Catholic Church, in particular, has lobbied heavily against it because the measure would require religious hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception. The hospitals, however, would not have to dispense the pills.

Owens is Catholic, but as Mountjoy likes to point out, so is she.

Mountjoy said that as part of the push for the bill, Christie Todd Whitman, former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, made taped phone calls to "thousands" of Colorado Republicans on Tuesday, asking them to call the governor and urge support of HB 1042.

This is the first time the bill has made it to Owens' desk. In the previous two sessions, it survived the GOP-controlled House but died in a GOP-led Senate committee.

"I think this is a very historic day in the state of Colorado," said Rep. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, after her bill passed its final hurdle Tuesday, when the House concurred with Senate amendments.

The pills are most effective when taken immediately after the assault but can work for up to 120 hours afterward.

"This bill is for someone who has just been sexually assaulted, who did not welcome that sperm into her body," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. "It's just like wanting a bullet removed from your body."

Rape in Colorado

• 1,657 rapes were reported to police in 2003

• 16% (estimated) rape victims report their assaults

• 1-5% of rapes end in pregnancy; 50% end in abortionSource: Naral Survey, Am. Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynecology, Others

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

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Please urge Gov. Owens to sign House Bill 1042. Click here to sign a petition telling Gov. Owens how important this really is.

Thanks,
Caleb Hayes

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