Monday, October 1, 2007

Connecticut Bishops and Plan B

There's a lot of discussion over the Connecticut's Bishops decision to allow the contraceptive pill Plan B in Catholic hospitals.

The current policy from the USCCB is thus:

"A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum [n. 36]."

But what about Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae?

According to Jimmy Akin, contraception is condemned in those documents during conjugal intercourse. There is no provision for rape. That's the loophole.

The pertinent part of the bishops' statement is this:

"Since the teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work, the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut have stated that Catholic hospitals in the State may follow protocols that do not require an ovulation test in the treatment of victims of rape. A pregnancy test approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration suffices. If it becomes clear that Plan B pills would lead to an early chemical abortion in some instances, this matter would have to be reopened. "

As far as I know, and I'm no doctor, Plan B functions by preventing an egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall. No egg present, no pregnancy. The debate comes in whether or not Plan B causes the same effect on a fertilized egg. At this point no one knows.

I would assume so, but a fertilized egg is very chemically different than an unfertilized egg, so I don't know.

As we read above, the USCCB mandates that before administering a potential abortifacient that an ovulation test must be performed to determine the possibility of pregnancy.

The Connecticut bishops maintain that since the abortifacient potential of Plan B is unknown, that an ovulation test is unnecessary. They say an FDA-approved pregnancy test is sufficient.

Again, I'm no doctor, but it is my understanding that a pregnancy test can only detect a pregnancy after eight or so weeks. If a woman is in the hospital immediately following a rape the test will obviously not show a pregnancy.

Second, those bishops are being very irresponsible here; they forego the ovulation test due to the uncertainty of the abortifacient potential of Plan B. The responsible thing to do would at least continue to test for ovulation precisely because of that uncertainty. Better safe than sorry.

Third, just because the USCCB found a loophole doesn't mean it's morally licit. If a woman can get contraceptive medication from a violent act that is missing the component of love, then any women can do the same after a non-violent act equally without the component of love.

One act was done out of violence and hate, the other out of lust and indifference. Either way it lacks the integral component of love. Same thing.

The most glaring point of all this is that if there is no evidence of ovulation, meaning there is no threat of pregnancy, why bother administer the contraceptive medication at all?

And lastly, two wrongs don't make a right. Just because a woman's right to not be sexually assaulted was violated doesn't mean we can go ahead and violate a potential human's right to exist. (I say potential because I'm talking about ovulation and that it could possibly be an embryo.)

Onan was struck dead by God for spilling his seed upon the ground to avoid pregnancy. Here, this drug causes a woman to spill her seed on the ground to avoid pregnancy. How is it different?
This situation isn't as complicated as people make it out to seem. There is a definite moral answer to this.

This is the first step on a slippery slope. I hope Rome deals with this soon.

Info taken from:
http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2007/09/bad-news-in-c-1.html
and:
http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2007/09/bad-news-in-con.html

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