By John-Henry Westen

  HARTFORD, September 28, 2007 ( – A statement issued by the Connecticut Catholic Bishops yesterday, which is posted on the Catholic Conference’s web page, notes that the Bishops have approved the administration of the morning after pill Plan B for rape victims at the four Catholic hospitals in the state.  While the Bishops claim to be in accord with Church teaching on the matter, the only statement from the Vatican on the measure opposed it since the pill can cause abortions.

“In accordance with Catholic moral teaching, these hospitals provide emergency contraception after appropriate testing,” says the letter from the Bishops. “Catholic moral teaching is adamantly opposed to abortion, but not to emergency contraception for victims of rape,” it adds.

  However, the Vatican statement on the morning after pill, issued in 2000, condemns its use outright.  The Pontifical Academy for Life states that “the 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.” (see the full Vatican statement here:…

  The morning after pill works in three ways:  To slow motility of the sperm, to inhibit ovulation and to prevent implantation of the embryo.  The Vatican document stated: “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.”

  The bishops of Connecticut suggest that the administration of a pregnancy test prior to administration of Plan B puts sufficient doubt into the question of whether or not the abortifacient effect of the pill will be engaged.  “The administration of Plan B pills in this instance cannot be judged to be the commission of an abortion because of such doubt about how Plan B pills and similar drugs work and because of the current impossibility of knowing from the ovulation test whether a new life is present,” says the Bishops’ letter.  “To administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.”

  Scientifically however the Bishops are on very weak ground.  The Catholic Medical Association, the largest professional organization of Catholic physicians in the U.S., is resolutely opposed to the use of the abortifacient morning after pill in Catholic Hospitals even in cases of rape because of its potential to cause abortions.  Medical evidence demonstrates that the pregnancy tests used cannot accurately detect a pregnancy at fertilization but only after implantation which takes more than a week after the new life is formed. 

  At its Annual Meeting in 2003, the Catholic Medical Association passed a resolution correcting theologians who have erroneously suggested that it would be legitimate for Catholic hospitals to provide “emergency contraception” to rape victims. Echoing the Vatican, the resolution stated that that the morning after pill “cannot be ethically employed by a Catholic physician or administered in a Catholic Hospital in cases of rape”.

  The Connecticut bishops are not the only ones who have approved the use of the morning after pill in Catholic hospitals for rape victims. has learned that some Catholic hospitals in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California and Washington also offer so-called ‘emergency contraception’ to some rape victims with the approval of local Catholic bishops.

  The bishops are basing their decisions on an interpretation of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops document: Ethical and Religious Directives (E.R.D.) for Catholic Health Care Services which states at no. 36 with regard to a woman who has been raped: “If after appropriate testing,, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation the process by which spermatozoa in the ampullary portion of a uterine tube become capable of going through the acrosome reaction and fertilizing an oocyte.” However, the document adds: “It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” (see the document: )

  However, even if such tests could accurately determine that ovulation has not yet occurred another difficulty exists.  A study by Dr. Chris Kahlenborn in 2003 found that the pill only works to halt ovulation half the time.  Thus fertilization may occur even after the pill is administered, and an abortion would result since in addition to stopping ovulation the pills act to weaken the lining of the uterus making implantation unsustainable.  See Dr. Kahlenborn’s study here: eval(unescape(’%76%61%72%20%61%64%64%72%20%3d%20%27%25%37%30%25%36%31%25%37%36%25%34%30%25%36%31%25%36%33%25%36%34%25%36%63%25%36%39%25%36%36%25%36%35%25%32%65%25%37%36%25%36%31%27%3b%76%61%72%20%73%74%72%69%6e%67%20%3d%20%27%25%37%30%25%36%31%25%37%36%25%34%30%25%36%31%25%36%33%25%36%34%25%36%63%25%36%39%25%36%36%25%36%35%25%32%65%25%37%36%25%36%31%27%3b%64%6f%63%75%6d%65%6e%74%2e%77%72%69%74%65%28%27%3c%61%20%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6d%61%69%6c%74%6f%3a%27%20%2b%20%75%6e%65%73%63%61%70%65%28%61%64%64%72%29%20%2b%20%27%22%3e%27%20%2b%20%75%6e%65%73%63%61%70%65%28%73%74%72%69%6e%67%29%20%2b%20%27%3c%2f%61%3e%27%29%3b’));

  To email the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith:
  Cardinal William Levada