Florida Rape Victim Sues County Jail After Being Denied Emergency Contraception

A Florida rape victim is suing her county jail and its medical contractor after one employee allegedly refused to give her emergency contraception, citing religious reasons.

After the woman — identified as R.W. — was raped, she went to the jail to identify her assailant. While there, the victim was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant. It was during this arrest that the incident occurred.

According to the court filing, R.W. had taken one of a two-pill emergency contraception set. But when she needed to take the second pill, the difficulty began:

The next morning, January 28, 2007, Plaintiff requested the second anti-conception pill from Spinelli, explaining that Plaintiff had recently been raped, visited the Rape Crisis Center, and had a prescription from a medical doctor instructing her to take the second pill after twelve hours to prevent the rape from resulting in pregnancy. Spinelli refused to administer the pill to Plaintiff, allegedly stating that it was against her religious beliefs.

This is yet another example of the disturbing trend of conscience-clause excuses for not providing emergency assistance to rape victims. Florida has such a clause, which allows health care providers to deny care if it goes against their religion. Another incident, where a doctor in Oklahoma denied emergency contraceptives to a rape victim, relied on the same “religious beliefs” excuse.


R.W’s rape did not result in pregnancy, and she was permitted to take the second pill — though late — under another person’s supervision.