.- In a guest comment in the Denver Post Feb. 8, Archbishop Charles Chaput explained why the Catholic Church cannot support legislation that would require hospitals in the state to provide emergency contraception for women who are raped.
The archbishop of Denver was responding to State Rep. Fran Coleman, a Catholic legislator, who recently took issue with Catholic resistance to portions of HB 1042.
Archbishop Chaput stated that while Catholic teaching supports the right of rape victims to defend themselves against potential conception by preventing ovulation, it could not support methods that would work as abortifacients and eliminate the fertilized egg.
“If the hormonal agents used in emergency contraception are intended to suppress ovulation, and if they're applied at a point in a victim's cycle where they truly can prevent ovulation, Catholics can support their use,” he explained.
“The Church and her health-care institutions already allow for this as an act of defense against violent sexual assault,” he added.
But HB 1042 describes emergency contraception as "any drug or device approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration that prevents pregnancy after sexual intercourse, including but not limited to contraceptive pills."
Given this definition of emergency contraception, if the bill were passed, Catholic hospitals would unfortunately be obliged to refer such patients to other hospitals on moral grounds, the archbishop said.
“Catholic hospitals - which provide their services based on moral and religious convictions about the dignity of the human person - should not be obligated to perform or refer for procedures which violate Catholic teaching,” he said.
The archbishop also insisted that the bill include informed consent.
“A victim of sexual assault surely has the right to know what is being administered to her and what its potential effects are,” he said.