Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Corte Plays Dumb

When all else fails, just play stupid! That was ostensibly Rep. Frank Corte’s game plan this morning during the House State Affairs Committee hearing on HB 16. At today’s meeting, Corte claimed when he filed HB 16 he had no expectation that it would be so controversial. Of course not, abortion is never a controversial issue! So, as any good politician would do, Corte decided to file a clean-up substitute bill.

The original bill amends state law allowing pharmacists to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and defines “emergency contraception” as any prescription drug “containing an elevated dose of hormones that is used to prevent pregnancy.” The substitute to HB 16 would remove the language "emergency contraception" and amend the bill to, in Corte’s words, “merely add pharmacists and physician assistants to a list of medical personnel allowed to object to the participation in the termination of life.” He says Chapter 103 in the occupation code already awards employees of hospitals or health facilities this right.

“It is regrettable that the original bill made reference to emergency contraception.... It has never been my intention that objections be used for any procedure for the prevention of pregnancy. Some pharmacists may have legitimate objections to filling birth control prescriptions, and I sympathize with them. But this bill is not a solution for their issue. I only intended to give pharmacists the same right to object to participating in pregnancy termination that other medical personnel have.”

But Rep. Corte has left one vital question unanswered. In order to define “prevention of pregnancy” or “termination of life” we must first have a consensus as to what constitutes the beginning of life. Oh, maybe he misjudged the importance of this too.