Skip to comments.Bp. Lori issues clarification on CT Plan B decision
Posted on 10/03/2007 9:47:09 AM PDT by NYer
I'm very happy he published this statement, although I would have preferred that it appeared in a more official context than his personal blog. Still, it's available, and hopefully more so now.
Plan B, an issue previously discussed in this blog (Sad State of the Constitution State, April 24thsee Archive) is back in the news. Many of you posted comments about those media reports, so Id like to offer a number of clarifications and some additional perspective.
Last spring, the Connecticut Bishops worked hard to defeat the so-called Plan B legislation. Its not that the Church opposes administering Plan B to victims of rape; these women have suffered a gravely unjust assault. Last year, nearly 75 rape victims were treated in the four Connecticut Catholic hospitals; no one was denied Plan B as the result of the Catholic hospital protocols which required both a pregnancy test and an ovulation test prior to the administration of that drug.
Whats really at issue here is how much testing is appropriate to ensure that Plan B does not induce the chemical abortion of a fertilized ovum. There is uncertainty about how Plan B works. Its effect is to prevent fertilization of the ovum. Some believe, however, that in rare instances Plan B can render the lining of the uterus inhospitable to the fertilized ovum which must implant in it in order to survive and grow; many other experts dispute this. For their part, the Bishops of Connecticut felt it was best not only to administer the standard FDA-approved pregnancy test, but also an ovulation test. However, this course of action was only a prudential judgment, not a matter of settled Church teaching and practice. Other bishops and moral theologians hold that a pregnancy test alone suffices. Indeed, the Church does not teach that it is intrinsically evil to administer Plan B without first giving an ovulation test or that those who do so are committing an abortion.
Unfortunately, Connecticut Legislature decided last spring to settle the question of whether both tests are necessary, instead of letting the Church do so in her own way. The Governor signed into law a measure that forbids health care professionals from using the results of an ovulation test in treating a rape victim. We bishops, as well as health care professionals, continue to believe this law is seriously flawed and should be changed. You should also know that we carefully explored with very competent experts the possibility of challenging the law. Unfortunately, such a challenge would most likely not succeed. Failure of the hospitals to comply would put them and their staffs at risk.
In the course of this discussion, every possible option was discussed at length with medical-moral experts faithful to the Churchs teaching, with legal experts especially in the area of constitutional law, and with hospital personnel. Reluctant compliance emerged as the only viable option. In permitting Catholic hospitals to comply with this law, neither our teaching nor our principles have changed. We have only altered the prudential judgment we previously made; this was done for the good of our Catholic hospitals and those they serve.
At the same time, we remain open to new developments in medical science which hopefully will bring greater clarity to this matter. Above all, we continue to pray for the healing of those who are victims of sexual assault.
I am working with a couple of knowledgeable contributors to produce a summary of the recent relevant medical findings on Plan B, ovulation testing, and related issues. I hope to have that posted by the end of this week. Contributions to that project are welcome, if you want to email me. Thanks for the helpful comments so far.Previous posts on this topic:
Furthermore, LifeSiteNews is trying to get to the heart of the matter regarding whether Plan B falls under the condemnation issued by the Vatican in 2000 of "morning after pills." More here.
The relevant passages from the Pontifical Academy for Life's "STATEMENT ON THE SO-CALLED "MORNING-AFTER PILL:
Stepping aside for a moment from the scientific questions (which are completely relevant), take a circumspect look at the moral principle the document asserts: in essence, everyone involved with the choosing, distribution and proscribing of medications that may harm a newly-conceived zygote are to treat their decision with the utmost carefulness and respect for human life.
3. It is clear, therefore, that the proven "anti-implantation" action of the morning-after pill is really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion. It is neither intellectually consistent nor scientifically justifiable to say that we are not dealing with the same thing.
Moreover, it seems sufficiently clear that those who ask for or offer this pill are seeking the direct termination of a possible pregnancy already in progress, just as in the case of abortion. Pregnancy, in fact, begins with fertilization and not with the implantation of the blastocyst in the uterine wall, which is what is being implicitly suggested.
4. Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly co-operate with this procedure are also morally responsible for it.
6. In the end, since these procedures are becoming more widespread, we strongly urge everyone who works in this sector to make a firm objection of moral conscience, which will bear courageous and practical witness to the inalienable value of human life, especially in view of the new hidden forms of aggression against the weakest and most defenceless individuals, as is the case with a human embryo.
Labels: american bishops, breaking news, catholic hospitals, connecticut bishops conference, pro-life
Thanks much for all this info.
“Reluctant compliance” = rejecting Jesus when the going gets tough.
Interesting, why do you suppose it is that a young lady I knew (now the Mom of a pretty little girl) was encouraged to take the Plan B pill a month after she got pregnant....so it would “start here menstral cycle”....hmmm
|1449 The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He effects the reconciliation of sinners through the Passover of his Son and the gift of his Spirit, through the prayer and ministry of the Church:
|2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
|2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
|Making Babies: A Very Different Look at Natural Family Planning|
|Couple say Natural Family Planning strengthens marriage|
I don’t think I ever heard of Bp. Lori before — do you know anything else about him? Sad introduction to him, though . . .
Here are the abortion references I MEANT to post.
|1:||CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 2271 (618 bytes ) preview document matches
1 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion,
|2:||CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 2272 (580 bytes ) preview document matches
2 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A
|3:||CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 2322 (290 bytes ) preview document matches
2 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 § 3),
|4:||CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 2274 (554 bytes ) preview document matches
gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent
This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. This “Bishop” needs a good talking to.
Bp. Lori was a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. I know he attended college seminary at St. Pius X in Erlanger, KY, because we were there together. I believe (but not sure) that he did his theology at Mt. St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, MD. His reputation was always that of a conservative (mostly due to his seminary background - especially the St. Pius connection). I hadn't seen him since seminary.
Shortly after being appointed to Bridgeport, a priest in his diocese committed suicide after being accused of sex abuse. Bp. Lori's immediate response was to apologize to anyone the priest may have abused (I don't know if the abuse was ever proven). His current rep among seasoned bishop-watchers is one of a personally holy man with no spine -- kind of like Wherl Lite.
So he's managed to keep under the national radar for years, and he has to pop his head above it for this?
The National Catholic Bioethics Center is a leading institute for matters pertaining to bioethics and with an eminent board of Catholic scholars.
NCBC Statement on Connecticut Legislation
Regarding Treatment for Victims of Sexual Assault
October 3, 2007
Recently the Bishops of Connecticut permitted a protocol in Catholic hospitals for the treatment of victims of sexual assault. This action on the part of the Connecticut bishops received national attention and requires some commentary. This is a complex moral matter and does not lend itself to brief explanation. This difficulty was rendered all the worse by inaccurate reporting and inappropriate, indeed misleading, terminology.
Catholic hospitals have always provided contraception for the victims of sexual assault. This was usually done with a medication or medications which would prevent ovulation. If an egg is not released from the ovary, the victim cannot become pregnant. There was a difficulty here, however, because some medications appear to have a negative effect on the lining of the womb that might prevent an implantation of a new human embryo if one is engendered as a result of the assault. This would amount to an early medical abortion that would not be allowed.
In light of these facts, two protocols were generally developed and approved by bishops. One protocol allowed for no use of a medication for contraceptive purposes because it might have an abortive effect.
Another more commonly used protocol tried to take into account the variety of circumstances surrounding a sexual assault in such a way as to allow the use of a contraceptive medication if it truly worked as a contraceptive.
The protocol with the ovulation test.
A rather simple (ovulation) test is used to determine whether or not a victim has begun to ovulate or has already ovulated. If the victim has not ovulated she is given the drug that will prevent the release of the egg from taking place. If the woman has already ovulated, the drug is not given because 1) it will not have the desired effect of preventing ovulation and 2) it might, if a new life is present, have an effect on the lining of the womb and prevent implantation.
The role of bishops.
Bishops do not write medical protocols; health care professionals and medical institutions do that. If a protocol concerns a procedure that has ethical implications, it will be submitted to a bishop for his ethical judgment reached in consultation with medical and ethical experts. If the bishop is convinced the procedure will not violate the moral law, he will not stand in the way of its being implemented. He will basically grant what is called a nihil obstat which basically means there are no moral objections to the implementation of this protocol. Bishops simply do not have the competence to adjudicate between competing scientific claims about the mechanisms of drugs.
The legislature in Connecticut passed a law that mandated that emergency contraception be given to any victim of sexual assault upon her request. This law went into effect October 1, 2007. Catholic hospitals do not object to providing emergency contraception because they had been providing it all along. However, under the new law the state would not allow physicians to give a test to determine if ovulation had occurred and then to refuse to give a drug to prevent ovulation on the medical grounds that the drug could not prevent what had already taken place.
The state does allow a pregnancy test. However, this test can have nothing to do with the sexual assault. This test only identifies a conception that had taken place before the assault. It takes an embryo 5 to 7 days to make its way down the oviduct and implant in the womb. Only then does it secrete a hormone, or chemical, which can be detected in the womans urine or blood. It is the pregnancy test that detects this hormone. In fact, there are no tests available that can tell us if a woman has conceived right after the assault and during the time the embryo would travel down the oviduct.
The Catholic hospitals and bishops objected to the Connecticut law because it did not allow a physician to do a simple test to see whether or not the medication he or she was considering prescribing would actually have the effect for which he or she wanted to administer it. In other words, the physician would have to administer a drug preventing ovulation even if ovulation had already occurred. Frankly, that makes no medical sense. The state was preventing a physician from exercising his or her best medical judgment about a procedure he or she was considering.
A second objection centered around the fact that the medication(s) might prevent an implantation if a conception had occurred. To intend and to do such a thing is immoral. However, there was considerable debate among medical and drug experts whether or not the drugs actually had that effect. And everyone agreed there was no test even to know whether a new life had been conceived.
Finally, attention should be drawn to the fact that the Federal Drug Administration includes the intra-uterine device as Emergency Contraception which is a misnomer since it is known to have an abortifacient effect.
Unlike the state of Colorado, for example, the state of Connecticut would not allow physicians to exercise their best medical judgment and provided no conscience protection to physicians or hospitals to refuse to administer the drug when requested.
The decision of the Connecticut bishops and hospitals.
The Connecticut Catholic bishops and hospitals, under strong protest, have allowed a new protocol to be used that was developed by Catholic health care institutions. Furthermore, they made it clear that if a test were ever developed that allowed one to detect a conception after an assault, and if it became clear (as is not yet the case) that the medication(s) would work as an abortifacient, they could no longer accept the protocol. Finally, the Connecticut bishops pointed out that the Doctrine Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had studied this matter for years and could not come to the conclusion that the protocol previously allowed by the Connecticut bishops (the ovulation test protocol) would have to be used by all Catholic institutions.
In matters that have not yet been decided definitively by the Holy See, The National Catholic Bioethics Center has refrained from adopting one or another position on a disputed question. However, in the matter of protocols for sexual assault, there is virtual unanimity that an ovulation test should be administered before giving an anovulant medication. The protocol the NCBC has supported requires the ovulation test because it provides greater medical and moral certitude that the intervention will have its desired anovulatory effect. The NCBC objects strongly to state mandates, such as those passed by Connecticut and Massachusetts, that do not allow health care professionals and facilities to exercise their best medical judgment and which do not protect the consciences of all parties. We also object to state mandates that do not allow the victim of sexual assault to have all the information necessary for a medical intervention so that she might make an informed judgment. However, the NCBC understands the judgment of the Connecticut bishops that the administration of a contraceptive medication in the absence of an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act. However, it is immoral to violate ones conscience, including the corporate consciences of health care agencies, and the unwillingness of the state to allow an exemption of conscience makes the law unjust and onerous.
The feminists of 130 years ago were more intellectually honest and morally consistent than our CT Catholic bishops. It's a disgrace.
Don't the Bishops realize how jaw-droppingly scandalous this is?
Please read this. In my reading, it seems to affirm that the Bishops have been placed in a "no man's land" by the State which has no purview here as it violates our religion. In that sense, it does not "throw them under the bus" as most reports do.
The Catholic Medical Association is likely to follow a similar line of reasoning. The CMA uses the NCBC for many of its positions, and Fr. Tad is well known as a spokesman inside the Church on stem cell issues.
Please read this carefully, Mrs. Don-o. It places things in context and the position it takes is against a law which does not allow medical doctors to demand a test for ovulation before giving this drug. That would resolve the most hideous issues. That is a key part of what is reprehensible to my reading. The State, by saying that is not necessary, pushes the parties so that they are possibly complicit in an act to which they do not wish to be forced into.
But Salvation, we’re talking about rape here. I understand that it doesn’t change the Church’s position on contraception, but Natural Family Planning is hardly an option...
Whoever recommended Plan B to start a period “a month after she got pregnant....” is/was ignorant of the mechanism of Plan B.
That’s not so surprising if it was prior to 2001, when the first study came out that showed that the protocol didn’t change the uterine lining. Or before 2004, when the second study came out confirming the first.
I don’t see why you are referencing church policy on marital contraception when this entire debate is on the use of emergency contraception for victims of rape. There is no marital chastity, self giving or love in a rape.
You need to recheck your doctrine. Contraception is not considered wrong in cases of rape. The debate is about whether an ovulation test can be required prior to prescribing the medication, not whether the medication can be prescribed.
Thank you, Frank. I think the NCBC and the CMA have done a yeoman’s job in getting these issues clarified in the detail they deserve.
I just wish the Bishops would do the same. Before confronting us with a scandalous fait accompli.
It was described as intrinsic evil, and frankly Plan B is potentially an abortifacent.
There isn’t and never will be a church doctrine that allows abortion. However, contraception in cases of rape is allowed due to the unjust assault on the woman. If a woman has not ovulated when raped, EC can be dispensed. Most Catholic hospitals will allow this. If a woman has already ovulated, there is no point in providing EC because its purpose is to prevent ovulation.
Do you believe that victims of rape should be able to prevent pregnancy from that rape, if the method of prevention does not cause an abortion?
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