A majority of state senators felt the compromise Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, tried to work out with the Catholic Church was a good one, even if the Catholic Church didn’t think so.
Several senators who have supported the Catholic Church in the past voted in favor of the compassionate care bill that calls for a third-party to administer the Plan B emergency contraception to rape victims in Catholic-run hospitals.
Sen. David Cappiello, R-Danbury, said living 30-minutes from the New York border he finds it hard to understand how the Catholic Church in New York supports a third-party arrangement and Connecticut bishops won’t. He said he doesn’t want to pit one bishop against another, but now that this is no longer a Catholic issue, he has fall on the side of rape victims.
Sen. Sam Caliguri, R-Waterbury, said “I don’t think we’re talking anymore about the Catholic religion…and the compelling state interest must prevail.” He said he supported the bill because it was fair.
Sen. Don Defronzo, D-New Britian, who voted against the bill said “we can’t say we’ve made the full-effort for negotiations to take place.”
But Harris would disagree. He said the legislature has made every effort to reach out to the Catholic Church over the past year, since similiar legislation died last year. He said he thought there would be a third-party solution before the bill came back to the Senate. He was quick to point out that the church was first to put the third-party solution on the table.
On Wednesday a spokesman for the Catholic Conference said a good compromise would be if the state will agree to have the third-party administer it off hospital grounds. At this point it was clear the Catholic Church had pushed the issue as far as legislators were willing to let it go. Many senators who spoke on the senate floor Wednesday felt the responsibility of the church had been far enough removed by the third-party solution that going any further would compromise an sex assault victims’ health.
Harris said there were four formal meetings with the church and their last formal communication was on March 23. The church didn’t formally say anything until earlier Wednesday when it sent a letter addressed to the chairs and ranking members of the Human Services Committee.
Theletter was signed by two of the four bishops: Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport.
Regarding the third-party solution, the letter said “after extensive and careful consultation with Church ethicists, it is clear to us that this approach would involve the hospital in a way that would violate Catholic moral principles of cooperation.”
Here is thethird party solution the Catholic Church offered on March 23 (the details are on page six of the seven page handout).
For more detail on the Senate debate click here to read Maura’s live blog on My Left Nutmeg.