The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut have reversed a previous decision and are allowing Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, to rape victims without an ovulation test.
Their decision comes just days before a new state law would require the distribution of Plan B, regardless of religious beliefs. The Act Concerning Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, which takes effect Monday, will require a pregnancy test, but not an ovulation test, before the drug is administered.
In a statement from the Connecticut Catholic Bishops, “The Bishops and other Catholic health care leaders believe that this law is seriously flawed, but not sufficiently to bar compliance with it at the present time. We continue to believe this law should be changed.” Originally, Church officials had stated that the treatment was identical to abortion, however they have backed away from this position.
According to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a woman who has been raped has the “moral right” to prevent pregnancy for three reasons:
“First, the rapist (including his sperm) is an unjust aggressor who has violated the woman’s dignity. Second, rape is an act of force and violence, unlike the conjugal love in marriage whereby both spouses give freely of themselves in an act of unitive and procreative love. Third, the woman is not responsible for the action, and thereby has the right to prevent the pregnancy.”
However, according to the Arlington Catholic Herald, the real difficulty in rape treatment protocols is having moral certainty that conception has not occurred. Once conception has occurred, the new life is a new, unique human being. As stated in the Declaration on Procured Abortion, "From the time the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.”
Determining whether or not conception has taken place, has been the issue in Connecticut. With the new law, and the uncertainty surrounding Plan B, the Catholic hospitals will be allowed to provide Plan B without ovulation tests. However, the bishops have determined that due to the fact that “the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work…[t]o administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.”
The bishops say in their statement that a pregnancy test will provide them with enough information to determine whether or not conception has taken place.
Plan B is a high dose of a drug found in many regular birth-control pills. Its maker, Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., got approval last year to sell the drug over-the-counter.
The company says Plan B can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The drug works by stopping ovulation and has no effect on an existing pregnancy.”