VATICAN, February 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an interview with La Stampa’s Vatican Insider today, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, has backed the decision of the German Bishops conference to permit use of the morning after pill in Catholic hospitals for rape victims.

The decision of the German bishops to give approval to the morning after pill was based on their having been convinced that research suggests that the pills are contraceptive in nature rather than abortifacient.

They stated explicitly that treatment for rape victims at Catholic hospitals “can include administration of a ‘morning after pill’ to the extent that it has a preventative and not an abortifacient effect.” Their press release added: “Medical-pharmacological methods that cause the death of an embryo still may not be used.”

The Vatican prelate said of the situation, “German bishops have decided to back their colleague, Cardinal Meisner (archbishop of Cologne, Ed.), in introducing a law that would be implemented in Catholic hospitals in his diocese. It is an exemplary law which reiterates what the Catholic Church has been proposing for the past 50 years.”

Though some recent studies of the drug have suggested it does not act as an abortifacient, one of the world’s top authorities on the drug says women must be told that it “may at times” cause an abortion.

"To make an informed choice, women must know that [emergency contraceptive pills] … prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, but may at times inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg in the endometrium,” writes Dr. James Trussell, Director of Princeton’s Office of Population Research, in an academic review on the drug dated February 2013 and co-authored with Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond.

Still there is a vested interest in having the pills deemed contraceptive-only. A 2012 study in the journal Contraception aiming to show that the drug is not an abortifacient acknowledges that concerns about the abortifacient effect is “one of the main barriers” to a wider distribution of the drug. The paper’s lead author acts as an advisor on the drug to pharmaceutical companies that produce it.

Asked whether there is a concern that the drug could cause an abortion, Bishop Carrasco said determining the pill’s abortifacient effect should be left to doctors.

“What Church teaching says in this case is: in cases of rape all possible action must be taken to prevent a pregnancy but not to interrupt it. Whether a given medicine is classed as a contraceptive or abortion-inducing medication, is up to doctors and scientists, not the Church,” he said.

See the full interview at the Vatican Insider here.