By John-Henry Westen

  VATICAN CITY, October 29, 2007 ( – Speaking to Catholic pharmacists this morning, Pope Benedict XVI warned them against dispensing drugs “that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo.” The comments should have an impact on the debate around the use of Plan B for rape victims at Catholic hospitals in the United States.

  Michael Izzotti, the Canadian representative of Pharmacists for Life International told that the Pope’s comments address the controversy in the United States over the use of Plan B at Catholic hospitals. Izzotti rejected the assertion that the Pope’s comments would only apply to the abortion pill RU-486, insisting that they apply to Plan B – the morning after pill and even to the birth control pill.

“RU-486, the morning after pill, and even the birth control pill can cause the prevention of implantation,” he said. 

  Cristina Alarcon, another Catholic pharmacist in Canada, concurred.  “Scientifically,” she said of Plan B, “one of the mechanisms is prevention of implantation.”

  The Pope made his remarks in an address to the 25th international congress of Catholic pharmacists, currently being held in Rome, with the theme “The new frontiers of pharmaceutical activity.”

  Speaking of “the ethical implications of the use of particular drugs,” he said, “we cannot anaesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person’s life.” He added: “Pharmacists must seek to raise people’s awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role.”

  The Pope called on pharmacists to refuse to participate in violations of the right to life with “conscientious objection”.  He called the practice of conscientious objection, “a right that must be recognized for people exercising this profession, so as to enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.”

  The Pope also stressed how “all attempts at cure or experimentation must be undertaken while bearing in mind the wellbeing of the person concerned, and not only the pursuit of scientific progress.” He added, “the quest for the good of humanity cannot proceed at the expense of the wellbeing of the people being treated.”

  Alarcon, also a member of Pharmacists for Life International, said that if hospitals administer Plan B it would be better if they did not call themselves ‘Catholic’. “They shouldn’t be calling themselves Catholic if they are not willing to follow Catholic teachings,” she said. “It’d be better if they didn’t call themselves Catholic.”

  See the full address (in French) here:…

  See related coverage:

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