[Mitt Romney] made his announcement a week before the controversial law takes effect. His decision resolves, for now, a debate that has raged since the Department of Public Health disclosed its position Monday. The department had said that the existing statute allowed private hospitals to sidestep the new requirement if they wished. Massachusetts is one of eight states that require all hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.
A dozen Bay State hospitals that treat rape victims do not provide the morning-after pill, according to a 2004 survey by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. The interpretation that all hospitals must offer the pill could have the greatest impact on Catholic hospitals that do not provide emergency contraception because it violates their religious tenets.
Catholic hospitals are extremely reluctant to discuss the issue. Christine A. Baratta a spokeswoman for the Caritas Christi Health Care System, which operates six Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts would only answer questions via e-mail. She said Caritas will continue to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault victims as long as they're not pregnant and that the hospitals use a serum blood test to determine pregnancy. It's unclear how that policy will conform with the law.
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