.- Catholic groups across Colorado are lobbying Governor Bill Owens to take a stand against a new bill requiring hospitals to provide information on emergency contraception to rape victims. Religious leaders around the state think that House Bill 1042, which passed last November, violates the religious freedom of hospitals, particularly Catholic ones, by forcing them to offer information on abortion.
Governor Owens, a Roman Catholic, refused Tuesday to take a side on the issue. His aides told media that he is "carefully considering" it.
Meanwhile, Catholics, including Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, are urging the governor to veto the bill.
In a February 8th column, the Archbishop said that, "HB-1042, as it currently stands, has serious flaws that should cause any thoughtful person to stop and reflect."
He continued: "Catholic hospitals - which provide their services based on moral and religious convictions about the dignity of the human person - should not be obligated to perform or refer for procedures which violate Catholic teaching."
"This doesn't involve "preaching" to anybody," he added. "It involves fidelity to principle and conscience - the same principles and conscience that animate Catholic service to the poor."
The Colorado Catholic Conference has also weighed heavily on the issue, citing that, "During the floor debate, the proponents of HB 1042 resisted reasonable amendments that would permit a Catholic Hospitals to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of life."
"Catholic hospitals", they added, "reaffirmed that emergency contraception is offered to survivors of sexual assault to prevent pregnancy from occurring, but is not provided if fertilization has already occurred."
Added the Archbishop: "Coloradans owe rape victims our compassion and immediate support. In providing that support, methods matter."
A good end, no matter how urgent, cannot justify bad means. The responsibility of adult citizens is to think carefully about complicated issues and choose the right course."
"HB-1042", he said, "is a well-intentioned piece of legislation. What it needs now is the clarity of deeper moral and scientific reflection, and room for people and institutions to remain true to their consciences in responding."