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German bishops' morning-after pill decision causes concern
cna ^ | February 22, 2013 | Estefania Aguirre

Posted on 02/22/2013 3:21:12 PM PST by NYer

The pill, contraception. Credit: Jess Hamilton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Rome, Italy, Feb 22, 2013 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Doctors and people involved in pro-life work say that the German bishops’ decision to allow morning-after pills for rape victims raises strong concerns and that the drug in question can cause a chemical abortion.  

“There is a real dangerous precedent that could be set here again because the news moves so quickly,” said Vicky Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, in a Feb. 22 interview with CNA.

“There is real danger in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Latin America and Africa and five years from now women will be asking themselves if that is perhaps the only child they could’ve had and lost,” she added at the Pontifical Academy for Life’s annual general assembly at the Vatican.

The German bishops decided Feb. 21 to allow Catholic hospitals to use the morning-after pill or other contraception in rape cases, provided that the medication acts as a contraceptive and not an abortifacient.

Their decision came after a 25-year-old woman claimed she was raped and was refused treatment at two Catholic hospitals in Cologne.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner issued an apology on Jan. 22, saying it was shameful for a Catholic hospital to refuse treatment to a rape victim.

The German bishops were already planning to meet as a group, so the topic was added to the agenda of their four-day gathering in Trier, Germany.

The bishops unanimously agreed to allow the morning-after pill in rape cases, provided that it is administered in a way that “has a preventive and not an abortive effect.”

“Medical and pharmaceutical methods which result in the death of an embryo still may not be used,” a Feb. 22 statement from the bishops said.

As part of their discussion, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the Commission for Doctrine and Faith of the German Bishops’ Conference, illustrated the moral and theological evaluation of using the morning-after pill “on the basis of scientific findings on the availability of new compounds with modified effect.”

However, some medical professionals question the assertion that the morning-after pill can function solely as a contraceptive.

“There is absolutely no such pill with a 100 percent guarantee that it will not cause an abortion,” said Catherine Vierling, a medical doctor who is active in the pro-life movement.

Doctor Simon Castellvi, president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, told CNA Feb. 7 that “the morning-after pill works as an anti-implantation product in 70 percent of the cases where the woman is fertile.”

Thorn also says there is no morning-after pill that will not affect implantation.

“I do not believe there is one because all the research I have done on this shows that the missing piece is knowing when ovulation happened,” she remarked.

“I have grave concerns about this issue in Germany, and I’m very skeptical about this because there is so much we don’t know,” she added.

Thorn noted that the body “is so complex with so many other factors, and I think we’re in a very dangerous place when we assume we have this knowledge.”

Doctor John Haas, a bioethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a permanent member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, did not comment on the chemical actions of the pill but he did explain a way it could be used ethically.

He explained that it is possible to know whether the morning-after pill will cause an early chemical abortion by determining if a woman is ovulating.

“There are two ways in which (ovulation) can be determined, three ways really.  

“You can take the medical record of her cycle and determine where she might be within it.  But then there are more precise scientific tests that can be done, test that could be done using her blood or her urine.  This will allow them to see whether or not certain hormones are in the blood or urine and that will indicate whether or not she has ovulated."


TOPICS: Catholic; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: abortion; contraception; germany

1 posted on 02/22/2013 3:21:25 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
It seems the German bishops are already operating in sede vacante mode. They have caved to political pressure. Please pray for them. Also from Catholic News Agency:

Morning-after pills all have abortive potential, doctor says

2 posted on 02/22/2013 3:24:05 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

This is one article that wouldn’t ever be written about SSPX bishops, whatever else people say about them.

You can pray for the Germans; I’ll damn them to hell.

3 posted on 02/22/2013 3:27:41 PM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: steve86

“You can pray for the Germans; I’ll damn them to hell.”

That’s officially above your pay grade.

4 posted on 02/22/2013 4:17:58 PM PST by vladimir998
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To: NYer; vladimir998
Maybe the info in this aticle is misleading or I'm not understanding it, but it seems that this decision doesn't change anything. It is always licit to give a contraceptive after rape if it is determined that the woman has not already ovulated. The purpose of the pill is to prevent ovulation; it may also have the effects of altering cervical mucus to impede sperm motility, or even be directly spermicidal.

However it is not to be given after ovulation.

Therefore -- in this time frame --- it could not act as an abortive drug.

This does not violate the teaching against the sin of contraception, because the sin of contraception means the choice of contracepted sex. The raped woman didn't choose sex at all, therefore can't be guilty of "choosing contracepted sex."

Am I missing something here? If so, correct me please!

5 posted on 02/22/2013 5:05:05 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: Mrs. Don-o; vladimir998
Am I missing something here?

If I am following your thinking on this matter, then another step must be included in the process of determining when and if to administer the morning after pill: has the patient recently ovulated?

Given the dynamics of these situations, I intentionally posted the above article on the Morning After Pill. It delves deeper into the topic:

“That pill has at least four effects, and there is absolutely no pill in the world which could dissociate these four phases,” Vierling told CNA on Feb. 22.

“These phases include acidification of the vagina, which destroys sperm,” as well as the prevention of ovulation, she said.

Vierling explained the third phase will cause an abortion if an embryo is present because it causes the fallopian tube to lose its ability to move the child into the mother’s womb.

She noted that “the fourth phase thins the lining of the uterus, preventing the embryo from implanting itself onto the uterus, so this is also an abortifacient.”

Therefore, she explained, pills taken after sexual intercourse are capable of producing either a contraceptive or abortive effect, depending on whether the woman has ovulated or not.

There is no new formulation of the morning-after pill that functions only as a contraceptive with no potential to cause early abortions, she stressed.

According to Der Spiegel:

In a significant reversal just one month after two Catholic hospitals refused to treat a victim of sexual assault, Germany's bishops on Thursday approved the use of the "morning-after pill" in rape cases. German commentators say the step doesn't go far enough.

German Bishops Accept Morning-After Pill

Just conjecture on my part but my reading on this is that the German bishops caved to public sentiment and the media.

7 posted on 02/22/2013 5:28:12 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: Tzar

Correct. Besides, I personally have never heard God decree that it is OK to stop ovulation post sexual act, consent or not, or artificially interfere with fertilization (or implantation) before or after the fact. Maybe that meme went out above my pay grade also. To say these things are permissible because the woman did not choose contracepted sex is the sort of wordsmithing for which the libs are notorious.

8 posted on 02/22/2013 6:16:38 PM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: vladimir998; NYer

Oh, I meant only to cast aspersions, not actually cast them off into the fiery pit. As the OP intimated, it is incumbent upon us us to pray that their souls be diverted prior to that ultimate plunge, though some bishops work hard to reach the inferno.

9 posted on 02/22/2013 6:31:27 PM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: Tzar
Could the hospital require the rape victim to cooperate with police in identifying and arresting the assailant? That would seem to add a level of accountability which would discourage false claims of rape.

The fact that the Catholic hospital personnel "could" lie about administering the ovulation test would seem to be an argument against many, many medical procedures that "could" be used fraudulently.

For instance, one could argue they shouldn't do hysterectomies for legitimate reasons, because hysterectomy "could" be used simply to prevent childbearing.

Or, that they shouldn't treat ectopic pregnancy, because it "could" be a cover-up for a direct sterilization.

Or, that they shouldn't make liquid morphine available to treat pain in the elderly, because it "could" lead to euthanasia of the "terminal sedation" "Liverpool Care Pathway" type.

But that would be wrong, wouldn't it?

Every rule is only as good as its oversight and enforcement.

The raped woman has a right to defend herself from insemination by the rapist, which is an extension of his assault. She can do so licitly if it's done before ovulation (therefore cannot be abortion). Is it right to deny her this legitimate self-defense because some "could" abuse it?

Serious question. I am unalterably opposed to abortion at any stage, including pre-implantation, for any reason. But a non-abortive defense against rape-insemination is a different matter, don't you think?

10 posted on 02/22/2013 6:53:11 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: steve86; tsar; NYer
Steve86, there's also nothing in the Bible or in Natural Law that says you can't stop ovulation for a legitimate reason, e.g. self-defense from an assailant's invading sperm. Look at as protecting something meant for marriage --- a holy thing --- from profanation.

Back in 1960 there were Catholic Belgian nuns in the Congo who heroically did not want to leave their medical mission stations, despite civil war, and the widespread terrorist tactic of raping nuns.

The fact is that the Church made it clear that nuns in danger of rape, could use diaphragms (known at that time as "pessaries"), and, later, that Catholic women in Bosnia in the early 1990s in danger of rape, could take birth control pills, because the sin of contraception consists in "choosing a contracepted act of sex." No choice, no sin.

It was Spanish theologian Fr. Marcelino Zalba --- an outspoken supporter of Casti Cannubi and, later, of Humanae Vitae ---who proposed that the Holy See clarify that the sin of contraception is the sin of choosing a contracepted sexual act, and the Holy Office agreed with this as a legitimate doctrinal clarification.

Also, Catholic hospitals have no objection to morning-after pills, so long as ovulation has not taken place, and therefore there can be no question of abortion, not even of a zygote or morula-stage human being.

I do not think that this has the status of an "irreformable doctrine," but only that reputable Catholic authorities --- including the Holy Office in 1960 --- thought this interpretation was correct, and I am unaware of them ever repudiating this intepretation.

If anyone has information I am missing here, I would be grateful to be corrected. I will always withdraw my own opinion in favor of the Magisterium of the Church.

13 posted on 02/23/2013 10:28:22 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o
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To: NYer
The German bishops decided Feb. 21 to allow Catholic hospitals to use the morning-after pill or other contraception in rape cases, provided that the medication acts as a contraceptive and not an abortifacient.

That doesn't even make sense ... unless the rape happened in the hospital or nearby enough to possibly prevent conception from happening.

14 posted on 02/23/2013 4:23:15 PM PST by al_c (
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