Raped woman, jailed, denied access to morning-after pill due to “religious objections”

There’s no denying the fact as of late, the religious right has been flexing its political muscle, and the result has been a steady erosion of women’s reproductive rights. It’s gotten so bad, in Mississippi a Federal Judge had to get involved when the state effectively declared war on abortion.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan entered a temporary restraining order and set a hearing for July 11 to determine whether it should be extended. “In this case, plaintiffs have offered evidence – including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers – that the act’s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi,” Jordan found.

While that cluster-fuck is happening, other states are considering similar legislation that would effectively make it impossible for women to terminate their pregnancies.

If it isn’t religious people in government trying to fuck you over, it’s religious citizens ensuring your life is a living hell. Pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals are using ‘conscience clauses’ to deny people access to birth control or, in the case of one recent rape victim, a morning-after pill:

In the process of filing a report on the rape, a Tampa police officer discovered that there was an arrest warrant for R.W. She was taken to jail, and everything she had with her was confiscated – including her pill.

OK, I know she had an arrest warrant, but surely a woman who’s just been raped deserves better than a terrifying night in jail, not knowing if she is pregnant with her rapist’s baby. The prison guard who refused to allow her to take the pill, Michele Spinelli, claimed her religious beliefs forbade her from handing over the pill. Spinelli and the prison are now being sued, although “R.W” was luckily not pregnant (close one). Nevertheless, the gross misconduct of the entire prison establishment in allowing this nonsense to happen should not be treated lightly. I hope the financial incentive of not being sued into oblivion is enough to make sure we stop giving the fundies any more inroads.

Comments (4)

  • avatar



    As a Canadian, I generally care little about the gong show that is America. It’s not that I lack sympathy or refuse to empathize, I’m just more interested in the happenings around me because I can participate in change rather than banging the table and deluding myself into thinking I’m doing something in another part of the world.

    In Canada, the very first (i.e. the most important) clause in Section 2 of our Charter is freedom of conscience and religion (Section 1 establishes limits while Section 2 lists our fundamental freedoms). Freedom of conscience and religion hopefully prevents a person from being compelled into doing something they find unconscionable.

    Up here in the True North, some doctors perform abortions and some don’t, and when it becomes an issue it’s usually explored as an access issue (e.g. more doctors plz), but down south the (liberal) media plays it up as another shot in the war on abortion.

    Freedom of conscience and religion protected me from discrimination when a former employer tried to ‘release’ me for not having prayer time during a staff meeting. Freedom of conscience and religion protects doctors who refuse to mutilate the genitals of newborn boys, and freedom of conscience and religion protects us non-believers from having to endure religious requirements (otherwise we’d all probably have to be Anglican). In other words, its the freedom to act or abstain based upon whatever beliefs you have.

    Yes, its inconvenient and cold-hearted at times. But isn’t it better this way? Or should doctors be compelled to perform services they’re not comfortable with and/or inexperienced in?

    Also, while I find it unfortunate R.W. wasn’t able to access her medication, she was under arrest and asking a correctional officer for drugs. Are they allowed to go into a person’s personal effects and give them what they’ve been told is medication?

  • avatar

    Lori F-MN

    She had gotten the med but didn’t take it? Why?
    Was a rape kit done? Was she treated as a victim first?
    If it was a different type of med, would the jailor been obligated to give it to someone in jail?
    A lot of unanswered questions in the story.

  • avatar

    fred jones

    Michele Spinelli is a piece of shit by definition.
    Her actions, showing complete contempt for the rights of a rape victim and a completely selfish world view where what she wants is all that matters. Refusing to assist to ease the woman’s suffering by at least letting her have the pill that would help ensure she would not be forced to have the child of her RAPIST.


  • avatar

    Sue Cesak

    And would you have supported Ms. Spinelli if she had lost her job for disobeying the rules?

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