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POST-RAPE TREATMENT A DISGRACE

Three weeks ago I was date raped, which is traumatic beyond words. The issue I would like to address is the manner in which the medical community in Utah Valley handled my situation and the questions that necessarily follow.

The morning after the rape I called my general practitioner and told the receptionist/nurse what had happened, requesting emergency contraception. She replied, "We don't do that kind of medicine; you'll have to call your ob-gyn." The receptionist/nurse at the ob-gyn office told me that they didn't give out "morning-after pills," and if I was raped I would have to go the emergency room at the local hospital for help.I then called the ER, and the receptionist there told me that they did have such medication, but in order for them to give it to me I would have to file a criminal complaint and go through a police investigation. So I called the Women's Health Center, where I was told that they only functioned as a reference and support system and didn't actually administer medication, but if I wanted to talk about it they would be glad to listen.

Finally I called Planed Parenthood and was immediately admitted. After being instructed about the emergency contraceptive, the person who treated me then suggested that I take a wide spectrum antibiotic that would cover venereal diseases caused by bacteria. (Obviously there is no medication that can prevent viral infections.) As I left Planned Parenthood, I silently took notice that the entire office was staffed by women.

I am a woman in my late 30s. I have been divorced for 12 years and have two graduate degrees, which is to say that I have a certain amount of experience and knowledge. I knew the medical treatment that I needed, and I was determined to do what was necessary to see that I received such treatment. But being refused at four different medical services was very intimidating, especially at a time in which I was so vulnerable, suffering from great pain, shame and confusion.

I am quite certain that if I were a teenager, or even a woman in my early 20s, I would not have been able to be so persistent. My real question is, what must a woman in Utah Valley do to get her medical needs met?

Last week I was at my GP's office for my son's school physical (preventive medicine) and asked to speak privately with the doctor. I told him of my experience and how frustrated and disappointed I was with the disgraceful manner in which his office handled my situation. He replied, "We have to be very careful; what we're really talking about here is a moral issue." To which I thought, "Of course it's a moral issue - I was raped and no one would help me!" But before I could say anything, he went on, "If I had seen you, I would have counseled you differently. We, at this office, don't believe in giving abortion pills."

I then explained to the doctor that the medication I took was not an "abortion pill." The medication I took alters the lining of the uterus so that if an egg is fertilized, it cannot implant; consequently calling it an abortion pill is a misnomer as there is never anything to abort.

The entire experience has left me more rather disillusioned. I met the rapist at a church-sponsored dance for single adults - he is a good Mormon man. Finally I must ask myself what responsibility I bear in the situation: that I trusted such a man, such men, such institutions?

Name withheld