Friday, March 10, 2006

Catholics should just shut up

Connecticut's Governor and Lt. Governor have both jumped all over the state's "victim advocate" to resign after testifying in opposition to a bill that would require hospitals - even Roman Catholic hospitals - to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. (Apparently, the Catholic hospitals in Connecticut will provide this only if a patient is not pregnant or ovulating.)

The advocate, James Papillo, is an ordained Roman Catholic deacon testified that the plan diverts attention from the real needs of victims. In comments made separately from his testimony, Papillo said that the state must take into consideration the religious rights of hospitals.

Governor M. Jodi Rell thinks that Papillo's remarks were beyond the pale. He "must not cross the line again between his personal beliefs and the interests of those for whom he advocates." Lt. Governor Sullivan called Papillo someone with a "very personal agenda, [who has] ... taken a position that is adverse to victims."

Ironically, Sullivan invoked the civil rights struggle of African-Americans. Responding to Papillo's statement that, as victim advocate, he has never heard a complaint from anyone who claims she was denied emergency contraception, Sullivan said "I think back to African Americans [when those opposed to integration] said, `Well, they didn't want to eat at [white] lunch counters anyway,"' Sullivan said.

I think back to the civil rights struggle too. I wonder if Rell would have said that those, like Martin Luther King, who argued against segregation on religious grounds had "crossed the line" in advancing his personal beliefs. Would Sullivan have said that the few courageous southern politicians and judges who opposed segregation should have shut up because, while they might have believed that segregation was inconsistent with their religious views, it was in the interests of those they were "supposed to" represent?

I suppose the point is that Papillo is supposed to support anything that is said to benefit victims no matter how unnecessary he thinks it is and no matter how badly it violates the rights of others. He is supposed to set aside his notions of right and wrong because they are based on his religious perspective. He can't possibly believe this bill is unnecessary because is a Roman Catholic clergyperson.

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