Patrick Craine

Plan B, rape, and abortion: Err on the side of life

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

February 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Elise Hilton took a strong stand rooted in her pro-life convictions last week when she refused the drug Plan B after her mentally disabled daughter was brutally and repeatedly raped.

After we reported her story yesterday, words of sympathy came flooding in, but many also questioned Hilton’s concern that the drug could cause an abortion. Others outright attacked her and accused her of trumpeting an “anti-choice” myth at the expense of her daughter.

The use of Plan B for rape victims has become the standard practice in health facilities throughout North America – to the point where state legislatures have even forced it on Catholic hospitals. But it’s a hot-button topic within the pro-life movement, and is more complex than it may seem.

There are essentially two key issues: First, is Plan B in fact an abortifacient? And second, if it is an abortifacient, is it possible to administer the drug without the risk of deliberately causing an abortion?

Is Plan B an abortifacient?

The drug’s purported aim is to prevent pregnancy within the first few days after intercourse.  It acts firstly by preventing the fertilization of the women’s ovum by either (1) delaying or suppressing ovulation, or (2) inhibiting the transport of the sperm or the ova.

But studies have found that if fertilization has already occurred, the drug can also act by thinning the uterine lining to prevent the newly conceived zygote from implanting, and thus cause an early abortion.

The Food and Drug Administration and even Plan B’s manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, both recognize the possibility of this “anti-implantation” or “post-fertilization” effect. One 1994 study found that this effect could account for most cases where the drug “prevents” pregnancy.

Recent studies have called this abortifacient function into question, however, leading some pro-life organizations like the Catholic Health Association to dismiss it.

But even the CHA, which supports the use of Plan B for rape victims at Catholic hospitals, still admits the possibility of the abortifacient function. Dr. Ronald P. Hamel, the CHA’s Senior Director of Ethics, wrote in 2002 that “the destruction of a conceptus cannot be absolutely ruled out.” In 2010, when CHA was attempting to justify their stance in favor of the use of Plan B, Hamel still could not rule out an abortifacient effect. He wrote that “virtually all of the evidence in the scientific literature indicates Plan B has little or no post-fertilization effect.”

Furthermore, some studies continue to find evidence suggesting an anti-implantation effect, so the more recent studies are not unanimous.

Of course the wider scientific and bioethical community reject the whole debate about the drug causing an abortion, because they long ago redefined pregnancy to begin at implantation. But obviously that won’t fly for pro-lifers who believe, as the embryologists do, that life begins at conception.

The overwhelming view among those who have not bought into this redefinition is that Plan B carries at least a minimal risk of causing a chemical abortion.  Some, including the Pontifical Academy for Life, believe the risk to be far more than minimal.

Can Plan B be taken without the risk of deliberately causing an abortion?

Acknowledging this risk, some Catholic moral theologians have argued that you can avoid the abortifacient effect by simply ensuring the woman is not pregnant when she takes it. They oppose its use in general as a contraceptive, but support the drug in cases of rape, arguing that it’s morally just for the woman to repel the attacker’s semen.

So Catholic doctors have proposed two approaches to testing the victim for pregnancy.

The first involves a simple pregnancy test. But even advocates of this approach admit that all this will do is establish a pregnancy existing prior to the rape. The test only actually shows up positive a week or so after intercourse, so it wouldn’t detect a baby conceived from the rape.

The second approach seeks to determine whether the woman has ovulated or not based on an assessment of her menstrual history, or in the case of the more rigorous Peoria Protocol, also based on a urine test and blood test. If she has not ovulated then she is clearly not pregnant, the theory goes. But even with all of these tests, advocates of this approach admit the possibility of “break-through ovulation” even if the results are negative, meaning the victim could still become pregnant.

The fact that these tests can still fail to circumvent the abortifacient function would be enough for many to rule the drug out. It goes back to the classic hunter in the woods scenario. If a hunter sees something moving behind a bush he can’t shoot until he knows for sure it’s not another person.

But some Catholic theologians argue that the improbability that the drug would cause an abortion raises enough doubt to offer “moral certainty” that an abortion will not occur. They argue that the child’s death would be an unintended consequence outweighed by the broader concern for the rape victim’s psychological state.

But this argument reduces moral certainty to a weighing of probabilities. If we acknowledge even the remote possibility that the drug will “prevent pregnancy” by destroying a human life, then we are directly responsible if it does. We cannot say that we are morally certain a child will not die as a result of Plan B when we admit there is a chance one could die, no matter how improbable we believe that chance to be.

The hunter in the woods can’t settle for probabilities. If we accept that Plan B carries a risk of abortion, there is a reasonable fear that an abortion could take place, and we cannot be morally certain that one will not.  Any risk of directly committing an abortion is unacceptable, however remote.

As bioethics expert Bishop Elio Sgreccia, then-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told LifeSiteNews in 2008, Plan B “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).”

We must always err on the side of life

I know that this is a heart-wrenching and deeply personal issue, especially of course for women who have suffered rape and taken Plan B on doctors’ advice. I want to emphasize that I am no way intending to make accusations. This is a complex issue, and I am in no position (and have no desire) to judge a decision made in such horribly difficult circumstances.

I’ve made my case against Plan B from the perspective of those suggesting the abortifacient risk is minimal. But many researchers, theologians, and pro-life advocates are gravely concerned that it’s more than a remote possibility, and it’s not my intention to suggest otherwise. My point is that even if we accept the premise that it is simply a remote possibility, that’s still enough to rule it out on moral grounds.

Commenters accused Elise Hilton of jumping into a serious life-or-death decision based on faulty science. But the science is far from settled, and where there is doubt we must always err on the side of life.

I stand with her.

Patrick Craine is Canadian Bureau Chief for LifeSiteNews.com and the president of Campaign Life Coalition NS.  He lives with his wife and two children in a rural town in Nova Scotia.

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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Federal judge strikes down Nebraska’s marriage law

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

LINCOLN, NE, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Homosexual activists celebrated another victory Monday as U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon once again ordered the state of Nebraska to stop enforcing its marriage protection amendment, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Bataillon, who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, struck down the amendment when it was first challenged by gay activists ten years ago, but his decision was overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now that gay activists have challenged the law again, the judge has issued a new ruling barring its enforcement, citing the recent string of federal court victories by supporters of same-sex “marriage.”

Bataillon said laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples unfairly discriminate based on “archaic” and “outdated” gender stereotypes.  

“[Nebraska’s Marriage] Amendment explicitly creates a classification based on gender because a person's eligibility to marry, or to have his or her marriage recognized, is based on the gender of the individuals seeking to marry,” Bataillon wrote.  “[It] is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”

The judge rejected the state’s assertion that the citizens of Nebraska, who approved the marriage amendment in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote, should be the ones to make any changes to the societally accepted definition of marriage.

“The Amendment is not somehow insulated from review because it was enacted by a significant majority,” Bataillon wrote.  “Minorities trampled on by the democratic process have recourse to the courts; the recourse is called constitutional law.”

Bataillon also rejected the state’s argument that traditional male-female marriages deserve special protection because they are the natural, ideal environment in which children are conceived and raised.

“With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children,” the judge wrote. “Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.”

Bataillon condemned the state’s prohibition of adoption by same-sex couples as “particularly harmful” and “constitutionally repugnant.”

“The State's supposed purpose in channeling children into stable relationships is not served by a same-sex marriage ban,” Bataillon wrote.  “It is both underinclusive in that it allows heterosexual people to have and rear children in unstable or abusive situations and at the same time prevents committed and stable same-sex couples from adopting and providing loving homes to children.”

“The policy has no rational connection to the State's purported purpose of strengthening families and, in fact, it thwarts that purpose by denying deserving children a stable home.”

In conclusion, the judge ordered state officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and granting full marital benefits to same-sex couples who “married” outside the state, writing: “All relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.”

Homosexual activists praised Bataillon’s ruling Monday, with the Nebraska ACLU calling it “a day for celebration.”

One of the homosexual plaintiffs in the case, Tracey Weitz, said she and her lesbian lover were taking the ACLU’s words to heart. “I think we'll have a bigger party than we did when we were married,” she told KETV.

But others were not as pleased with the decision, including state officials and some religious leaders.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children,” Roman Catholic Archbishop George Lucas and Bishops James Conley and William Dendinger said in a joint statement. "Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife."

“Because [Bataillon's] decision undermines the fundamental human right of every child to know, and as far as possible, be united with his or her mother and father, we pray for a just resolution in higher courts."

Bataillon made his order effective March 9, to give state officials a week to appeal.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, and Attorney General Doug Peterson immediately sought to overturn the ruling, filing a request for an emergency injunction with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts said.  He said he and Peterson intend to keep up the fight to “uphold Nebraska's Constitution and the will of the people of our great state.”

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San Diego’s new bishop champions ‘seamless garment’ theory: poverty on same moral level as abortion

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By Hilary White

ROME, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ latest episcopal appointment in the United States, to the Diocese of San Diego, is a bishop known as a champion of leftwing political causes under the rubric of the “seamless garment” theory, placing abortion and euthanasia on the same moral level as immigration and poverty.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Bishop Robert McElroy, currently an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco, will replace Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

The liberal Jesuit magazine America, with whom McElroy has a long and friendly relationship, was effusive at the appointment, calling McElroy an “advocate for the poor” and the appointment by Pope Francis “highly significant.” America’s Gerard O’Connell called McElroy “one of the intellectual heavyweights in the American hierarchy” who has “wholeheartedly embraced the vision and pastoral approach of Pope Francis.” He replaces Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

In a 2013 interview with O’Connell for La Stampa’s Inside the Vatican magazine, McElroy called poverty the “preeminent” issue for the Catholic Church, and complained, “In recent years, the conference of bishops has labeled abortion and euthanasia as the preeminent issues in the political order, but not poverty. This has had the effect of downgrading the perceived importance of poverty as a central focus for the Church’s witness.”

He added that the US bishops’ focus on issues of “intrinsic evil” like abortion, has distracted them from the fight against “structural sin” that is normally cited by the Church’s far-left as the cause of poverty. “I think that both issues should be intertwined in the Church’s approach to advancing the common good in the political order because I believe that it is compassion which morally unites these two issues – compassion for the suffering of the poor and compassion for the unborn.”

“I still am a believer in the underlying logic of Cardinal Bernardin’s seamless garment approach that saw all life issues as part of a continuum linked by the Catholic notions of compassion and justice.”

He made explicit his belief that the life issues are on an equal par with prudential matters like just war theory and immigration reform in a column for America the same year. Pope Francis’ “teachings demand a transformation of the existing Catholic political conversation in our nation, a transformation reflecting three themes: prioritizing the issue of poverty, focusing not only on intrinsic evils but also on structural sin, and acting with prudence when applying Catholic moral principles to specific legal enactments,” he wrote.

To truly be a “church for the poor,” the Catholic Church “must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues.”

McElroy has also joined the left-leaning majority of US Catholic bishops in refusing to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In a 2005 column for America, he called the proposal “partisan,” “Republican,” and “coercive.”

McElroy conceded that the existence of “pro-choice” Catholic politicians represents a “major failure in Church life,” but added that the suggestion that such people have excommunicated themselves “casts aside all the limitations and admonitions to pastoral solicitude that the church has traditionally demanded.” Repeating a favorite phrase of many US bishops, McElroy said that Americans “recoil from the use of the Eucharist as a political weapon.” 

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David F. Prentis

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Contraception gave us divorce and gay ‘marriage’ and will destroy us: here’s how

David F. Prentis
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March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Although there has always been contraception, its acceptance and practice by society as a whole is a relatively new phenomenon. In the first part of the 20th century barrier methods became through mass production increasingly used. However, with the advent of the hormonal contraceptive pill in the 1960s the contraceptive era, ushering in the sexual revolution, really took off.

The term “revolution” is by no means exaggerated, for the result was a fundamental change in the understanding of human sexuality in society. With the pill, people thought, nothing can happen, i.e. no child could be conceived. Inhibitions broke down, so that there was an increase in adultery, living together before marriage and living together with no thought of marriage. Amoral sex education with the message, “You can do anything you like so long as your partner agrees and you use contraception. If there is an accident, have an abortion,” promoted sexual promiscuity from puberty onwards. Sexual activity has been degraded into a form of entertainment.

The immediate consequences of promiscuity starting in adolescence are obvious: the rampant increase of sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and the incapability of forming long-term relationships through frequent changes of partners and repeated disappointments.

The assumption that “nothing can happen” is erroneous, because contraceptives are by no means 100% effective. Children are conceived, and such “errors” must be corrected – the child is aborted.[1] The result has been devastating: the number of babies killed by abortion every year is about the same as the total number of deaths in the whole of World War II.

Apart from the carnage, enormous havoc is created in the relationship of the parents, whether married or not, very often leading to its breakdown. It would also be naive to imagine that Catholic women never resort to abortion.

The situation of couples practising NFP however is quite different. They are aware every day of the state of their fertility, asking themselves whether the marriage act on that day would result in conception; they do not lose sight of the child who could be conceived. They do not forget the fundamental purpose of the act. An unplanned child is therefore usually accepted.

The widespread practice of abortion leads to euthanasia. If it is acceptable to kill one category of people, then it is logically acceptable to kill others, specifically the ill, the handicapped and the old, for human life is no longer sacred. A chilling example of this kind of development can be seen in the National Socialist regime in Germany.

The pill “culture” leads to the rejection of children, small families, and a demographic winter. In the long-term it will be impossible to pay pensions. For couples practising NFP however, the child is neither an error nor a threat. Their natural love of children is not destroyed. They have larger families. The 15 teaching couples in our organisation, for example, have 62 children so far, an average of 4.1 per family.

The separation of sexual activity from child-bearing leads to the acceptance of the production of children through assisted reproduction without recourse to the marital act in the case of infertility. Through IVF society is being led, inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, to the acceptance of controlled reproduction. Human beings are reduced to products. They are mass produced, selected, rejected, frozen or used in experiments. They are treated as material goods, in short, as slaves.

Slavery has been formally reintroduced into society. A doctor, whether mixing sperm and eggs in a Petri dish or injecting a sperm into an egg, is playing God. The arrogance of it! Surely this modern sin should be listed amongst those which cry to heaven.

When the practice of sterilised sexual intercourse is accepted, it leads logically to the acceptance of all practices leading to orgasm: oral, anal, homosexual acts, etc. The whole homosexual movement has become possible only through the general acceptance of contraceptive practice and the reduction of sexuality to a source of entertainment.

The practice of contraception within marriage contains within itself the mutual rejection of the spouses. It leads to the destruction of love. It belongs to the nature of love to give oneself, even to the point of sacrifice, seen eminently in the self-sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Even in our ordinary life a mother’s sacrifice of herself for her child is by no means exceptional. A mother will naturally go to great lengths to help her child, exceptionally even giving up her own life. The marriage act is meant to be an act of mutual love. The natural fruit of that love is the child. The spouses give and receive each other mutually completely. Even during the naturally infertile days of the cycle they give each other all they have at that time – their mutual love.

But if they use contraception they say to each other subconsciously, “I do give myself to you, but without my fertility, and I don’t want your fertility either.” Is that love? The act which in its nature expresses the total self-giving and receiving of the spouses contains an element of rejection, and therefore becomes a lie. When this act of rejection is systematically and continually repeated, love dies. The marriage is at least burdened. Many marriages break down.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Couples who use NFP do not practise this subconscious, systematic rejection. From personal experience and observation of our clients we see that such marriages are more stable. This is also shown in studies. Greater stability is evident even in those without religious practice. [2]

Contraception, which leads logically to other evils as described above, is destroying society. There are too few children and nations are dying out. It leads to abortion, as those who promote it concede. The combination of promoting promiscuity through Godless sex education, the long-term use of hormonal contraception with back-up abortions and the postponement of child-bearing leads to increased infertility.

The solution offered is not a true therapy of infertility, but assisted reproduction which bypasses the normal process of transmission of life through the marriage act. The long-term purpose of this policy could well be the desire to subject reproduction to state control, which would allow only those children to be born who pass quality control. At present this is illusory, but the tendency can be seen. It would appear that an elite group wishes to create a society of virtual slaves obedient to their desires. A new totalitarianism is being formed.

To this end it is necessary to destroy or at least weaken marriage and the family. For this purpose contraception, especially the convenient hormonal forms, is eminently suitable. And those who pour their millions into the homosexual movement and the gender ideology are not concerned with helping homosexuals and those with problems of sexual identity. Rather they are using these people to extend the concept of marriage and ultimately to widen its meaning so much as to make it meaningless.

 


[1] Baklinski, P, Two-thirds of women seeking abortions were using contraception: Britain’s largest abortion provider, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/two-thirds-of-women-seeking-abortions-were-using-contraception-britains-lar

[2] Wilson, M.A.: The Practice of Natural Family Planning versu the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual and Moral Issues, Catholic Social Sceince Review, Volume VII, November 2002.

Rhomberg, W., Rhomberg, M, Weißenbach, H.: Natural Family Planning (NFP): The Symptothermal Method (Rötzer) as a Familiy Binding Tool. Results of a Survey among Members of INER, 2008, http://www.iner.org/files/02_anwenden/Download/NER%20Survey%202008%20Cathol%20Soc%20Sci%20Rev.pdf

 

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