Many Catholics around Colorado have asked us for more clarity about the Church's view of state Senate Bill 07-060. If passed, SB 07-060 will govern the distribution of information on emergency contraception to rape victims.
Under normal conditions, Catholic teaching views contraception as a distortion of the purpose of human sexuality, and therefore seriously wrong. In the case of rape, however, emergency contraception is morally acceptable for women as an act of self-defense. Catholic hospitals already provide emergency contraception to rape victims in a morally sound way as part of their medical care, and have done so for years.
The problem with "emergency contraception" comes in two forms.
First, contraception means literally "against conception." Human life begins at conception. This is a biological fact. Preventing the conception of a new life is very different from killing it once life begins. Procedures that destroy a human embryo after conception but before implantation in the uterus are not "emergency contraception." They amount to a very early stage abortion, an act which Catholics and Catholic institutions regard as gravely wrong and therefore cannot support.
Second, religiously affiliated medical institutions should not be coerced into violating their principles by being forced to provide services that clash fundamentally with their beliefs.
As it currently stands, SB 07-060 is not "good" legislation. We applaud the act's conscience clause for individual medical professionals -- but we also strongly urge state legislators to consider including a similar conscience clause for institutions as a matter of justice.
Unlike similar proposed legislation in the past, SB 07-060 gives some flexibility to institutions in meeting the requirements of the law, thereby allowing Catholic medical facilities to cooperate without violating their Catholic character. Therefore, while we do not regard this legislation as ideal, we do believe that Catholics can accept and work with it in good conscience.
+Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
+Most Reverend Arthur N. Tafoya, D.D
Bishop of Pueblo
+Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan, S.T.D.
Bishop of Colorado Springs
Printed with permission from the Archdiocese of Denver.