By Michael Baggot

SALEM, OR, March 6, 2008 ( – A new Oregon law requires all state hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to tell sexual assault victims about “emergency contraceptives,” their option to receive them, and to provide the drugs when requested. 

The new law, HB 2700, was supported by state public health officials and went into effect the first day of this year.  This past Monday the Oregon Department of Human Services filed the rules to enforce the new law, reports The Oregonian. The state has also produced a series of fliers and posters to inform patients about their “right” to be informed about and to receive “emergency contraception.” Any institution that fails to follow the law could receive a fine of up to $1,000.

California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington have similar laws requiring hospitals to offer so-called “emergency contraceptives.”

Because the morning after pill alters the uterine wall lining to prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum (embryo), a 2000 statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life noted that the pill “is really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion.”

“Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same 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,” adds the document.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, reiterated the Vatican’s position in a February 26th interview with  “The morning after pill is dangerous,” he said. “It is an abortifacient when there is a conception and so illicit to prescribe by doctors.”
  In an October 2007 address to pharmacists, Pope Benedict XVI warned against distributing drugs “that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo.”

Under the guidance of the Catholic Health Association, several bishop conferences in the United States have allowed Catholic hospitals to distribute the morning after pill in cases of rape.  Catholic hospitals in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California and Washington have given rape victims the pill with the approval of local bishops.

Connecticut bishops gained attention last September for their statements permitting Catholic hospitals in the state to give rape victims the Plan B pill.  In their letter, the Connecticut bishops argued that the use of the pill is not equivalent to 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.”

However, asked whether the pill could licitly be given to rape victims, Bishop Sgreccia 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).”

The Plan B website itself confirms that the pill may cause an abortion, indicating that “Plan B may also work by preventing [a fertilized egg] from attaching to the uterus (womb).” (

In 2006 the US Food and Drug Administration also stated, “It is possible that Plan B may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb), which usually occurs beginning 7 days after release of an egg from the ovary,” (

A 2003 Polycarp Research Institute study ( indicated that the morning after pill prevents ovulation about half of the time.  Thus, it is possible for fertilization to occur after taking the pill.  The successfully fertilized ovum would then likely die due to its inability to implant in the altered uterine lining.

In 1965, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology redefined conception, saying, “Conception is the implantation of a fertilized ovum.”  Previously, however, conception was universally defined in the scientific community as the fertilization of an ovum. The consequent redefinition of contraception has allowed the morning after pill to be labeled an “emergency contraceptive,” despite its potential to eliminate a fertilized ovum, a human being in its earliest stages of development.

The secular Encyclopedia Britannica, on the other hand, states, “A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.” 

Dr. Jerome LeJune, professor of genetics, testified to a US judicial subcommittee in 1981, “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.”  LeJune added that the humanity of the fertilized ovum, “is no longer a matter of taste or opinion,” and is “not a metaphysical contention; it is plain experimental evidence.”

Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, Doctor of Theology, has also noted that distribution of the pill contradicts the Church’s opposition to contraception as an intrinsic evil, aside from any abortifacient capacities the pill has. 

“Prevention of procreation is intrinsically evil prior to and independently of any good end which might be achieved thereby, such as avoiding further violence at the hands of a rapist”, stated Fr. Fehlner.

“Contraception is to be judged objectively so illicit that it can never, for any reason, be justified,” Pope John Paul II told Indonesian bishops in 1980.

See previous coverage:

Head of Pontifical Academy for Life Reconfirms Morning After Pill Cannot be Used Even in Cases of Rape

Pope Tells Pharmacists Not to Dispense Drugs to Inhibit Implantation; Implications for Plan B at Catholic Hospitals

World Renowned Theologian Renders Possibly Decisive Blow in Debate on Plan B in Catholic Hospitals

Connecticut Bishops Allow Plan B in Catholic Hospitals for Rape – Catholic Medical Association Opposed

See the Pontifical Academy for Life Document on the Morning After Pill here: