Tampa Rape Victim Says She Was Arrested, Denied Emergency Contraception | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Tampa Rape Victim Says She Was Arrested, Denied Emergency Contraception

Hold onto your crucifixes -- this one's ridiculous.

A Tampa judge has decided a lawsuit can go forward against the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office after a female rape victim accused a prison guard of refusing to give her a doctor-prescribed emergency contraception pill because "it was against the guard's religious beliefs," according to the Courthouse News Service.

The woman, identified as "R.W." in court documents, says she was raped in January 2007 and given two "morning after" pills -- one to take at the clinic and one to take 12 hours later. The woman then filed a report of the crime with a sheriff's deputy -- unfortunately for her, the deputy discovered R.W. had an outstanding warrant and locked her up in the Hillsborough County Jail, where her second pill was confiscated.

When it came time for R.W. to take the second pill, jail employee Michele Spinelli allegedly refused to give it to her, saying it was against her religious beliefs.

It took three complaints to make it stick, but the case will be allowed to move forward after R.W.'s lawyers said the sheriff was liable -- even if the denial was not official policy -- because Spinelli was the only person on duty "with the power to dispense anti-conceptive medication" and had not been told "whether she could refuse to dispense anti-conceptive medication based on her religious beliefs."

Yes. This is so unclear. Does "religious freedom" mean people can literally walk around taking away legal medications from other people for no reason? A conundrum indeed.

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Rich Abdill

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