By Wendy Wolf and Cathy Raphael
A victim of a violent assault arrives in an emergency room. Once the patient’s condition is assessed, it is determined that the patient has, on file with the hospital, an order called an “advance directive” – instructions by the patient on what measures the hospital should take to prolong the patient’s life in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury.
Most Americans agree that all of us deserve the opportunity to make such decisions, within the bounds of the law, without interference from meddling politicians or hospital administrators. Dictates of someone else’s religion or conscience should have no bearing, most agree, on whether or not our wishes are carried out about such end-of-life measures as respirators and resuscitation.
Now imagine that patient, that victim of assault, as a woman who has been raped. By law, the hospital has to honor her wishes on how she would wish to die. But what about how she may wish to live? Should that same hospital be permitted to so meddle in her personal and moral life as to withhold from her the means by which she could prevent the pregnancy that might result from her assault?