TRIER, February 22, 2013, ( – On Thursday, the German Bishops’ plenary assembly meeting in Trier, released their decision on the use of the morning after pill for rape victims in Catholic hospitals. Even though their communiqué is couched in theological terms stressing that, should the pills have an abortifacient effect they should not be used, the news has on a practical level opened the door to the use of the pills in Catholic hospitals around the country.

The key portion of the release of the Assembly of German Bishops reads:

“The plenary meeting affirmed that at Catholic hospitals, women who are victims of rape receive human, medical, psychological and pastoral help as a matter of course. This can include administration of a “morning after pill” to the extent that it has a preventative and not an abortifacient effect. Medical-pharmacological methods that cause the death of an embryo still may not be used. The German bishops trust that in Catholic institutions, practical treatment decisions will be made on the basis of these moral theological precepts. In any event, the decision of the woman concerned is to be respected.”


The decision followed in the wake of Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner’s decision to allow the use of the morning after pill under the same conditions and with the same cautions last month.

As reported previously, the study Cardinal Meisner was presented with to convince him of the non-abortive nature of the pills, was anything but objective. It was authored by a physician advisor to a pharmaceutical company that manufactures the morning after pill.

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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.

In their release, the German Bishops recognized “the necessity of profound investigation of the further contingencies of this issue, including communication with responsible authorities in Rome.”

Of note, the release noted that Cardinal Meisner’s action was undertaken with the approval of both the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The approval of the head of the Academy for Life was today confirmed by the shock announcement by its head, Bishop Carrasco, that the German bishops decision on the matter was “exemplary.”

The largest circulation newspaper in Cologne, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, claims that in an interview with Cardinal Meisner on his decision, Meisner asserted that the Pope himself had approved. The paper alleges that Meisner spoke of a conversation he had with Pope Benedict XVI’s secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, about the ethics of the use of the pill in rape cases. “The Pope knows, it’s all right,” was the supposed reply.

However, has confirmed that, as the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reports, Manfred Spieker a Catholic professor at the University of Osnabrück questioned Archbishop Ganswein about the account by e-mail.

In an e-mail reply, Archbishop Ganswein says it is “not true” that Cardinal Meisner called and spoke with him about the morning after pill situation. 


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