Editorial by John-Henry Westen
VATICAN CITY, December 18, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the December 12 document Dignitatis Personae, the Vatican has condemned the use of morning after pills as falling "within the sin of abortion," and thus being "gravely immoral."
LifeSiteNews.com has reported often in the last few years that many Catholic hospitals in North America offer the morning after pill to women who are or claim to be victims of rape. Bishop Elio Sgreccia who assisted in the preparation of Dignitatis Personae, noted in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com last February that there is no exception for rape.
The morning after pill (MAP) is a drug that can be taken within 72 hours after intercourse, which works to inhibit ovulation and also to weaken the lining of the uterus, thus causing the already conceived child to die. The document calls MAP an "interceptive," meaning that it interferes "with the embryo before implantation."
Dignitatis Personae cautions that "in order to promote wider use of interceptive methods, it is sometimes stated that the way in which they function is not sufficiently understood." The document adds: "It is true that there is not always complete knowledge of the way that different pharmaceuticals operate, but scientific studies indicate that the effect of inhibiting implantation is certainly present, even if this does not mean that such interceptives cause an abortion every time they are used, also because conception does not occur after every act of sexual intercourse."
The Bishops of Connecticut, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California and Washington permit their hospitals to administer the morning after pill to rape victims. While some of the hospitals require an ovulation test prior to the drug’s administration, most only require a simple pregnancy test. Since a simple pregnancy test cannot detect pregnancy until usually a week after fertilization, the test is practically useless in determining a pregnancy resulting from a sexual encounter within 72 hours previous to its administration.
Thus, Catholic hospitals in dioceses like those in Connecticut where the morning after pill (Plan B) is administered to rape victims with only a simple pregnancy test will find themselves out of step with the Vatican in this latest statement. Dignitatis Personae states: "It must be noted, however, that anyone who seeks to prevent the implantation of an embryo which may possibly have been conceived and who therefore either requests or prescribes such a pharmaceutical, generally intends abortion."
Some have suggested that there is a Catholic exception to the use of the morning after pill when dealing with rape victims. However, in a February interview with LifeSiteNews.com the then-head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, said that there was no exception to the use MAPs.
LifeSiteNews.com asked Bishop Sgreccia if there was an exception in cases of rape. He replied: "No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo. It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman (the first being the rape itself)." (see coverage http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08022906.html )
See the full document Dignitatis Personae here: