Rape survivor jailed, denied EC

rape

A woman was raped by a stranger, went to the police to report it, and was thrown in jail when a paperwork error showed there was a warrant out for her arrest — from when she was a juvenile. Whoops.

The woman had a prescription for emergency contraception from a local hospital, but the medical supervisor at the jail refused to give it to her because it was against her religion. The woman was arrested on Saturday, and sat in jail until Monday afternoon. After being raped, and then denied protection against pregnancy.

Red Stapler sends on this news article, which gives more details about the story.

This happened in Florida, but it’s worth noting that EC access is generally abysmal. Forty percent of rape survivors in Connecticut, for example, aren’t offered EC in hospital emergency rooms. And it’s not just Catholic hospitals that are refusing or not even offering EC — secular hospitals are doing their part, too. All with the backing of “Democrat” Joe Lieberman.


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40 comments for “Rape survivor jailed, denied EC

  1. January 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I can’t believe that photo. I am so disillusioned about humans these days. Nice pick-up on the story.

  2. January 30, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    This is awful in and of itself — but beyond that, it’s also exactly the kind of thing that makes women less likely to seek help for acquaintance rape or date rape. If you can be raped by a stranger and still be jailed and denied EC, what will happen if you try to explain that you said “no” and your date kept going? Will anyone take you seriously? Somehow, I don’t think that the medical supervisor at that jail would.

    It also seems like they aren’t even trying to pursue the rapist. From the news article you linked, it sounds as though they haven’t even been to the scene of the crime (since she was arrested while trying to find the place the rape happened, in the dark). Then they didn’t send a detective to talk to her in jail because they had “no time-sensitive leads.” If they had bothered to check out the scene of the crime, you know, they might actually have some leads!

    This type of incident (even if it is an isolated incident, and it sounds like it won’t be, not with that medical supervisor around) doesn’t affect just one person, it affects every young woman who hears about it. Women need to be able to trust the police to ever feel safe — and we very often can’t.

  3. January 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I can’t believe that photo.

    I’m pretty sure that photo was made by Jill using the Church Sign Generator, meant as a commentary on the story.

  4. DAS
    January 30, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    I know I’ve gotten in trouble, as it were, for saying this before, but I’ll say it again:

    Perhaps it’s because I have one of them “Old Testament” mindsets, but if this woman gets pregnant, because of the actions of those who denied her access to EC, then all of those people who did so, especially the medical supervisor should be held appropriately responsible in an “eye for an eye” sort of fashion. Not only should the supervisor, and anyone else contributing, have to pay for the costs of her having the baby (if she chooses to do so) and whatever additional therapy she (and the kid) might need, but they should also have to experience whatever non-financial hardships she has to experience as well. When she goes into labor, the medical supervisor should be given drugs or whatever to induce equivalent pain. If the woman has permanent complications from the pregnancy, they should have those complications induced. And if the woman dies in pregnancy, I expect the medical supervisor to be put to death.

    These people want to exercise their religious consciences? Well, then they should have to pay the price of following their stupid (and in this case evil) ideas. To force others to pay a price which you are unwilling to pay is chickenhawkery at its finest. I am sick and tired of such moral chickenhawkery and wish that these people would quit forcing others to do what they would not do themselves.

  5. January 30, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Yeah, the photo isn’t real. Sorry. But the story certainly is.

  6. Bitter Scribe
    January 30, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    And cops wonder why a lot of people hate their guts.

  7. bmc90
    January 30, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    One can only hope that the Tampa police and that supervisor in particular gets taken to the cleaners in court.

  8. January 30, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Surprise! The medical provider was a private contractor:

    Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, said she couldn’t comment on the situation because medical information is private. But she said medical service policies are set by Armor Correctional Health Services, which contracts with the jail.

    Armor’s corporate offices were closed late Monday when the St. Petersburg Times tried to reach a spokesperson.

    Because everything’s better when we get the stupid government out of the way.

  9. January 30, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Oh, and interestingly, Florida’s new Surgeon General is from this private contract firm:

    Viamonte-Ros 50, of Coral Gables, manages Clinical Operation Support at Armor Correctional Health Services in Coconut Creek, Florida. She is the author of numerous publications in the areas of mental health, radiology and family health.

    Just sayin’.

  10. bmc90
    January 30, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Actually, Jeff, that’s good for the plaintiff because Armor is less likely to be able to raise soveign immunity as a defense to liability. Sadly for Pinellas County taxpayers, it is possible the County indemnifies Armor for certain claims arising from the scope of its contract. I hope they don’t all try to deny liability on the plea that the supervisor was acting outside the scope of her employment (i.e. actually violating her employer’s policy). I’m admitted in Florida, but not a litigator, so the finer points of these arguments are beyond me these days. Since it’s not likely that we are going to get federal legislation requrining that rape victims be provided with proper medical care, the next best thing is some HUGEMONGUS judgements against people and institutions who participate in denying medical care to rape victims.

  11. January 30, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the head-up on the ‘church sign generator’. I’m still pretty new to the blogosphere and have little experience with all the available technology. Interestingly enough, the sign is believable. I’m reminded of the case several years ago in Florida where the man convicted of manslaughter was given custody of a young girl over her lesbian mother. Thanks again for the story.

  12. bmc90
    January 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    From privateci.org, of course here is what the lovely people who run this companies do to those inmates who actually become pregnant:

    “October 14, 2005 Tampa Tribune
    A new company took over medical care this month for Hillsborough County’s jail inmates after Sheriff David Gee solicited new bids rather than renew a contract with the previous provider. Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. assumed control of the jail’s two 50-bed infirmaries on Oct. 1, replacing Prison Health Services. The contract will cost taxpayers $19,888,000 in its first 12 months and total more than $60 million over the course of the three-year agreement, Col. David Parrish said. PHS served Hillsborough jails for for the last three years and for seven years during the 1980s. The company came under fire and was the target of a federal lawsuit by former Hillsborough inmate Kimberly Grey earlier this year after she gave birth in a jail toilet after complaining for hours she felt ill. Her infant son died en route to the hospital. Parrish said one of the motivating factors that prompted the sheriff to open up the contract to bidding rather than to renew with PHS was the bad publicity that the jail received because of the Grey case. Armor is based in Broward County, where it holds a five- year contract with that county’s five-jail system. Armor’s chief executive officer, Doyle Moore, founded PHS in 1978 and stayed with the firm in various leadership positions until 2004. Four other key officers also worked for PHS.”

    Funny what happens to those “religious beliefs” when a nickle and a real baby is on the line.

  13. January 30, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I’m sure this will come as a shock, but Armor is in tight with our friends in the GOP:

    http://moderateleft.com/?p=3025

  14. bmc90
    January 30, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    And Catholic. A regular healthcare Halliburton. Why does every thing the GOP touches turn brown and die (after it has dropped money in the laps of the faithful)?

  15. L
    January 30, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I live in the Tampa Bay area (until a year ago lived VERY close to this specific part of Tampa). The TPD are known to be sexist and abusive, and I have heard numerous complaints from others regarding their behavior.

    In addition, Tampa is extremely conservative, and has long been a stronghold for those who sympathize with the belief system held by the John Birch society (i.e., women and blacks aren’t worth sh*t). This story is not surprising and is just another example of the authorities here behaving badly.

  16. January 30, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Unfortunately from what I can tell, Florida has a very broad refusal clause that explicitly mentions contraception and exempts the state from any liability from a refusal to provide it. IANAL, so I’ll ask bmc90 – Wouldn’t this prevent the woman from being able to sue for being refused EC?

  17. January 30, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    This happened in Florida, but it’s worth noting that EC access is generally abysmal. Forty percent of rape survivors in Connecticut, for example, aren’t offered EC in hospital emergency rooms. And it’s not just Catholic hospitals that are refusing or not even offering EC — secular hospitals are doing their part, to

    While my need for EC was thankfully due to a slipped condom and not a rape, I was denied it at an ER in Pennsylvania. Along with a nice dose of slutshaming:

    The admitting nurse sneered at me and said, “We don’t do that here.”

    That was traumatizing enough given my circumstances (a vacation-time fling/one night stand, in another state), I don’t even want to consider it under a post-rape situation.

  18. Carol
    January 30, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Jeff (and others),

    That bit about the Armor Correctional Health Services determining medical policy jumped out at me too. It boggles my mind that private companies are allowed to set policy rather than the state/county/etc they are contracting with. I don’t understand why government agencies, whose very lucrative contracts are in high demand, don’t set some conditions on those contracts. Is it really that hard? Or do they just care so little about the actual people involved?

  19. January 30, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Or do they just care so little about the actual people involved?

    I feel terribly cynical saying this, but I think you’ve got it in one.

  20. BStu
    January 30, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    This awful case immediately brings to mind the way many college’s respond to reports of rape by reprimanding the victim if they had been drunk at the time. It seems that often the accused rapist will get off scot-free on the “He Said/She Said” principle, while the victim gets penalized for being honest in their report of the incident. I know there were a string of incidents like that at Boston University a few years ago, but I fear they were not isolated.

  21. January 30, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Or do they just care so little about the actual people involved?
    I feel terribly cynical saying this, but I think you’ve got it in one.

    Ahh, the almighty dollar.

    Their prices truly are INSAAAANE.

  22. Thomas
    January 30, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Lesley, the statute raises more questions than it answers.

    IAAL. And I’m a litigator, though I don’t specifically have much experience with civil rights/police misconduct litigation and I’m not admitted in Florida. But I read the statute. Here is my take. The refusal clause says this:

    (6) REFUSAL FOR RELIGIOUS OR MEDICAL REASONS.–The provisions of this section shall not be interpreted so as to prevent a physician or other person from refusing to furnish any contraceptive or family planning service, supplies, or information for medical or religious reasons; and the physician or other person shall not be held liable for such refusal.

    But it also says this:

    (3) ACCESS TO SERVICES; PROHIBITIONS.–Except as otherwise provided in this section, no medical agency or institution of this state or unit of local government shall interfere with the right of any patient or physician to use medically acceptable contraceptive procedures, supplies, or information or to restrict the physician-patient relationship.

    The explicit right and protection in the refusal provision, by their terms, protects the individual. One very plausible read is that the individual can refuse, but the state as a whole has to comply with the non-interference clause and fill her prescription.

    One question in my mind is how the courts have interpreted the non-interference provision in the case of time-sensitive prescriptions (I’m thinking that psych meds, insulin and antibiotics may have come up in prior cases, but that’s a guess). They may have said that non-interference doesn’t mean an affirmative right to get meds on time, in which case she’s out of luck. Or there may be a prior ruling that if you have a presciption for psych meds they have to fill it, in which case it probably also means that one has a right to have an EC prescription filled.

    Another question is whether the refusal provision has been interpreted beyond its plain terms. There could be law or legislative history saying that the immunity of the person extends to the State. One could read the “except as otherwise provided” clause of the non-interference provision to admit of exception for refusal, though I think that’s not the natural reading. If the legislature had meant to do that, they would have written, “and no liability shall arise from such refusal.” But they didn’t. They extended the limitation on liability to the “physician or other person,” not to the employer thereof.

    What it comes down to is that the statute is not clear. Either the courts have interpreted it, or if this is litigated, they will.

    What clearly won’t happen is personal liability for the wrongdoer. Now, from a compensation perspective, that’s fine, because she wasn’t going to write a check anyway. From a deterrence standpoint, I am a fan of crushing some people like bugs to terrify others of their kind, especially concerning intentional torts. I think it would help more people if this woman were held personally liable to her victim and her wages garnished (they can’t take her house because of Florida’s goddamned homestead act). That would send a message to petty bureaucratic martinets and tyrants everywhere.

  23. January 30, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    This awful case immediately brings to mind the way many college’s respond to reports of rape by reprimanding the victim if they had been drunk at the time. It seems that often the accused rapist will get off scot-free on the “He Said/She Said” principle, while the victim gets penalized for being honest in their report of the incident. I know there were a string of incidents like that at Boston University a few years ago, but I fear they were not isolated.

    BU is beyond ridiculous in the way it treats rape on its campus. It essentially tries to pretend that rape doesn’t happen, and seems quite willing to compromise the safety of its students in order to defend its image.
    -My freshman year there, the local papers were all abuzz with a rape that had occured at one of the outlying dorms something like three years earlier that was finally being prosecuted, with BU having done all they could to keep it quiet in the meantime.
    -Around the same time, the women’s center tried to get the university to open a women’s/rape crisis center, but BU was so intent on covering its ass that it didn’t want to leave open the suggestion that maybe possibly students were getting raped and might need somewhere to go.
    -In the college of fine arts building, there was this weird hidden locker room that painting students and theater kids used to hijack as a work space. My senior year it was suddenly locked, and upon asking why I was told by a prof that there had been three rapes in there over the previous two years; enough people stay in that building late to work on stuff that that number seems wholly plausible, at least in terms of opportunity. Three rapes, and the school’s response is to lock the door, because obviously it’s all the room’s fault (or, rather, the fault of the victims for having entered the wrong room). Informing the students who continued to work alone in the building until all hours was just not a priority. God forbid, the bad publicity.

    Gaaaa, I hated that school.

  24. zuzu
    January 30, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Actually, Jeff, that’s good for the plaintiff because Armor is less likely to be able to raise soveign immunity as a defense to liability. Sadly for Pinellas County taxpayers, it is possible the County indemnifies Armor for certain claims arising from the scope of its contract.

    I don’t think county governments get to claim sovereign immunity, though they can usually require claimants to jump through certain hoops. But undoubtedly, Pinellas County taxpayers will wind up footing the bill for any suit.

  25. Bitter Scribe
    January 30, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    What a great way for prisons to save on medical costs. Hire Christian Scientists exclusively for your medical staff, and have them pray over every prisoner who gets sick (after refusing him or her medication). Your costs for pharmaceuticals will drop to zero.

  26. January 30, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    BU is beyond ridiculous in the way it treats rape on its campus. It essentially tries to pretend that rape doesn’t happen, and seems quite willing to compromise the safety of its students in order to defend its image.
    -My freshman year there, the local papers were all abuzz with a rape that had occured at one of the outlying dorms something like three years earlier that was finally being prosecuted, with BU having done all they could to keep it quiet in the meantime.
    -Around the same time, the women’s center tried to get the university to open a women’s/rape crisis center, but BU was so intent on covering its ass that it didn’t want to leave open the suggestion that maybe possibly students were getting raped and might need somewhere to go.

    -In the college of fine arts building, there was this weird hidden locker room that painting students and theater kids used to hijack as a work space. My senior year it was suddenly locked, and upon asking why I was told by a prof that there had been three rapes in there over the previous two years; enough people stay in that building late to work on stuff that that number seems wholly plausible, at least in terms of opportunity. Three rapes, and the school’s response is to lock the door, because obviously it’s all the room’s fault (or, rather, the fault of the victims for having entered the wrong room). Informing the students who continued to work alone in the building until all hours was just not a priority. God forbid, the bad publicity.

    I graduated from there in ’04 and I remember some of those stories you refer to. The school’s flat out refusal to establish a women’s center always irked me

  27. anarchistmanifesto
    January 30, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    I am so disillusioned about humans these days.

    This shows how much injustice there still is in this world. This case is a perfect example of “blaming the victim”. I hope she will be ok and can overcome the trauma she experienced.

  28. anarchistmanifesto
    January 30, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    It makes me so mad what the Justice System in this country does to innocent people and victims. It is just not fair I tell you!

  29. ako
    January 30, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I have one of them “Old Testament” mindsets, but if this woman gets pregnant, because of the actions of those who denied her access to EC, then all of those people who did so, especially the medical supervisor should be held appropriately responsible in an “eye for an eye” sort of fashion.

    Personally I’m torn between the satisfaction of my fantasy ironic punishment, which involves telling the jail nurse, “You don’t think having kids should be a matter of choice? Congratulations, you’re now a parent!” and handing over a half dozen orphans, and the feeling of dread I get at imaginging them as a parent.

    And I’m disappointed because the only thing I can imagine coming close to fixing the damage (firing and replacing every cop who thought jailing a rape victim on an old warrant was a good idea, a public apology and policy change from the city police department, and the city police paying restitution for all therapy bills and other damages) is not going to happen. And rapists in Tampa are going to have one more reason to think they can get away with it.

  30. Laura
    January 31, 2007 at 4:34 am

    If we’re going with “eye for an eye” punishments, I personally think the best one would be to, if the victim requires an abortion after being denied effective EC, make that incompetent nurse perform it.

  31. Laura
    January 31, 2007 at 4:36 am

    *reads various posts* Nurse? Medical supervisor? Her exact position’s been inconsistently reported, apologies if I was in error.

  32. bmc90
    January 31, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Bottom line is that it does not work to have anyone be able to use their religous beliefes to refuse to give a drug or perform a proceedure so long as the proceedure or drug is legal and in the best medical interests of the patient, with grey areas in that regard breaking toward patient preference. My husband works in the ER with Jehova’s Witnesses. You bet they perform blood transfusions or they would lose their jobs. If you can’t overcome your personal beliefs, you need another line of work. The government and private health care provders are getting away with this because of misogony. It’s no better than refusing to treat a black person, and I’m thinking specifically about the Tuskeegee airmen as I write this. The. law. needs. to. change. When a woman walks into an ER, and especially when she is in the custody of the state and can’t seek alternative help, it has to simply be illegal to refuse to provde her with contraception or an abortion if she wants one. That is the agenda we have to fight for, though right now throwing a few key people against a wall would make me feel a lot better.

  33. jiggavegas
    January 31, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    When a woman walks into an ER, and especially when she is in the custody of the state and can’t seek alternative help, it has to simply be illegal to refuse to provde her with contraception or an abortion if she wants one.

    Yes, yes, and YES. Buddhists aren’t butchers, the Amish aren’t television repairmen, and fundamentalist Christians should not be responsible for women’s health care. Your line of work is your choice. Other people should never suffer because you won’t do the job you were hired to do.

  34. January 31, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    If we’re going with “eye for an eye” punishments, I personally think the best one would be to, if the victim requires an abortion after being denied effective EC, make that incompetent nurse perform it.

    Are you trolling, or just losing sight of whom you’re proposing to punish here? Holy moly. Ow. Et cetera.

  35. Rhiannon
    January 31, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Other people should never suffer because you won’t do the job you were hired to do.

    My thoughts exactly and the same goes for those damn “pharmacists” too.

  36. Laura
    February 1, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Yeah, the fallacy in that hit me after posting. Change to ‘pay for’?

  37. car
    February 1, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    …and stand there watching, perhaps. I got the idea you were going for – if she doesn’t agree with this, then she needs to really understand what she’s made happen in place of taking a little pill.

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