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what some experts believe

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 02, 2007

Explaining the Connecticut bishops' decision to allow use of Plan B in Catholic hospitals, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport blogs:

What’s really at issue here is how much testing is appropriate to ensure that Plan B does not induce the chemical abortion of a fertilized ovum.

Answer: a lot. This is not a merely theoretical question; there are human lives on the line-- not to mention the tattered credibility of the Church.

The bishop continues:

There is uncertainty about how Plan B works. Its effect is to prevent fertilization of the ovum.

True, according to the manufacturers. Plan B is advertised as preventing fertilization by inhibiting ovulation. But what if the woman has already ovulated? Already conceived?

Some believe, however, that in rare instances Plan B can render the lining of the uterus inhospitable to the fertilized ovum which must implant in it in order to survive and grow; many other experts dispute this.

Well now to be fair, it's not just "some experts" who "believe" that Plan B can flush the fertilized ovum (that is, human being) out of the uterus; that's the mainstream assumption. The US Food and Drug Administration offers this:

How does Plan B work?
Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).

That's the argument from authority. Now consider the medical facts. If the woman has not yet ovulated, Plan B prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. But if ovulation has occurred, how does the pill work? It "may" prevent fertilization, or it "may" cause abortion. At best, we don't know.

So how could you be sure that Plan B would not cause an early abortion? By administering an ovulation test. Which is what the Catholic hospitals of Connecticut were doing until this week, because (Bishop Lori tells us) "the bishops thought it best." Now they think otherwise.

The Connecticut bishops considered a legal challenge to the state law, Bishop Lori reveals, but decided that the courts would not by sympathetic. (Oh, well then...) So:

“Reluctant compliance” emerged as the only viable option.

Apart from principled civil disobedience, of course. (And am I the only one who sees irony in the use of the word "viable"?)

In permitting Catholic hospitals to comply with this law, neither our teaching nor our principles have changed.

Last week the bishops said the state law imposed a morally unjustifiable obligation on hospitals. This week they say it doesn't. If you don't perceive a change in teaching, get yourself fitted for a miter.

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Show 27 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 09, 2007 4:14 PM ET USA

    Duns Scotus - anyone - what of so-called ‘marital rape’, that if a couple licitly, sincerely, properly agrees to use NFP but the husband who doesn’t usually get drunk does get drunk this time to the point of loss of reason and is about to force, if need be, sex with wife in her FERTILE condition? Such ‘marital rape’ seems also non-conjugal because of violation of their NFP choice and their strong mutual agreement to abide by it. Can the wife licitly insist on a non-abortifacient contraceptive?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2007 8:48 PM ET USA

    Eleazar, Humanae Vitae is a teaching about the morality of the conjugal act. When a married couple uses contraception and makes an act of sexual intercourse incapable of procreation, they have vitiated the act's conjugal nature and rendered the act immoral. This is why contraceptive intercourse by married couples is immoral. Rape is inherently non-conjugal intercourse. Contraception cannot vitiate what isn't there in the first place. Thus, post-rape contraception is llicit.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2007 8:15 PM ET USA

    Eleazar, Humanae Vitae is a teaching about the morality of the conjugal act. When a married couple uses contraception and makes an act of sexual intercourse incapable of procreation, they have vitiated the act's conjugal nature and rendered the act immoral. This is why contraceptive intercourse by married couples is immoral. Rape is inherently non-conjugal intercourse. Contraception cannot vitiate what isn't there in the first place. Thus, post-rape contraception is llicit.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2007 1:15 PM ET USA

    THE watershed Essay paving way to Plan-B “reluctant compliance” by CCC is this 5-yr.old article: http://www.chausa.org/Pub/MainNav/News/HP/Archive/2002/09SeptOct/articles/ You bet your life CT legislators LOVED & STUDIED it for all the perceived “weaknesses” in Catholic Church & in D36 moral regulations on the issue of Plan B. A series of pub. comments in basic harmony with above, formed a ‘time bomb’ exploding on Oct.1. Next post cites some flaws & one sample URL aiding new CT-STATE law.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2007 10:03 AM ET USA

    Duns Scotus, it would not be morally licit. "Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means." Humanae Vitae 14.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 04, 2007 3:20 PM ET USA

    Coco, the test the Bishops had previously mandated was not for pregnancy, but for ovulation, i.e. it tested to see whether the raped woman had ovulated that month yet. If the test showed she had, then Plan B would not be given because it would likely act as an abortifacient. If the test showed she had not ovulated, in the judgment of the Bishops, there was a moral certainty Plan B would not act as an abortifacient but would merely prevent ovulation. Thus, it's use would be morally licit.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 04, 2007 2:57 PM ET USA

    who are the experts giving advice? www.ncbcenter.org/07-10-03-Connecticut.asp (am just presenting their just released statement on this issue... not offering an opinion either way. also, do not know if they were consulted by the CT Bishops prior to their statement.)

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 11:23 PM ET USA

    Someone help me: No pregnancy test can detect a pregnancy before implantation. So what good does a pregnancy test do at a Catholic emergency room for a woman who was raped tonight and her egg was fertilised tonight? Since the pregnancy test will always give a negative or a false negative (because the fertilized egg has not implanted yet)? Who are these "experts" who are giving the bishops advice?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 10:10 PM ET USA

    To clarify, I was alluding to the famous dialogue Parmenides, by Plato. The Bishops of CT remind me very much of this dialogue as they spin around the Form of conception. Parmenides, as you'll recall, was attacking the Forms of Plato, which is what the CT Bishops appear to be doing as they parse the Form of the fetus and believe that it isn't predicated of Life. I guess that's what happens when the needs of the Many outweight the needs of the One. Pass the strawberries.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 4:51 PM ET USA

    Similar legislation is staging in Wisconsin. Some bishops see a complicated moral theological angle to Plan B (double-dose of the Pill) with rape victims, since there is no test right now for conception, only for implantation. PlannedParenthood defines pregnancy at implantation, not conception -- PP's agenda: first force the Pill into Catholic hospitals, then abortion. PP uses rape victims to testify & yet gives abortions to 12-year-old rape victims (statutory) without reporting the rape.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 2:21 PM ET USA

    "Hear hear, hear hear!" "Just a penny's worth of incense...burned on the altar..., that's all you need do... and the little saying of course 'Ceaser is Lord!'" "Then you can go back to that strange "Christian" thing you do..." If they do not repent..., the Martyrs will condemn them.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 12:21 PM ET USA

    Pseudodionysius, I agree with your sentiment, since I take you to be suggesting the good Bishop's blog entry is mere sophistry. I must point out, however, that Protagoras, not Parmenides, was the famous sophist whose name begins with a 'P.'

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 11:33 AM ET USA

    You mentioned that one could be sure Plan B would not cause an abortion by administering an ovualation test. That's not actually the case. An ovulation test is not definitive. Moreover Plan B does not always act to prevent ovulation even if it has not occurred there are "breakthough" ovulations. And I guess at the basis of it all is this question: Is aritifcial contraception intrinsically evil, if so then this debate is moot since it can't be used even for rape or to protect against AIDS.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 11:23 AM ET USA

    "Fiat justitia ruat coelum." Let justice be done though the heavens fall. Practical consequences (such as legal punishment) offer NO data for moral decisions which involve objective wrongs such as chemical homicide of a human being. Fear of legal consequences is nothing but cowardice.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 11:10 AM ET USA

    Oh, I see. As long as we don't "know for sure" whether ovulation has occurred, we can claim that it probably didn't and so we're acting in a moral way by providing Plan B to rape victims. So I guess it would be okay to drop a bomb on a school building if I don't "know for sure" there is anyone in it. Thanks for the clarification, Bishop Lori!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 10:50 AM ET USA

    Our bishops sound like the Jackie Gleason character Ralph Kramden--hom eh ne hom eh ne!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 10:48 AM ET USA

    The CDF needs to act pronto. The Conn. Bishops were right before they were wrong. They need to be reminded that it is their duty to teach and govern according to the truth, not according to what a hostile government demands. The disgrace here is magnified in that unborn human beings are now at risk of being killed in Catholic hospitals. And in time some certainly will bne killed. That should never happen. Catholic hospitals should never becomes killing zones. This must be reversed.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 7:38 AM ET USA

    Parmenides, call your office.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 7:12 AM ET USA

    Humanae Vitae was quite clear; any mechanical means to prevent pregnancy was contrary to natural law and therefore forbidden. That includes preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation. How Plan B works is irrelevant. The only relevant fact is that it does work. Bp Lori is quibbling.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 2:46 AM ET USA

    Good grief. The Connecticut Catholic Conference should change its name to Wimps for Jesus - When We Can Be.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 9:59 PM ET USA

    The next chapter comes when a Catholic employee of a Catholic hospital courageously conforms to Catholic teaching in defiance of the bishops who have compromised with the culture of death by refusing to cooperate in the potential killing of an unborn child.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 9:27 PM ET USA

    It's as I've noticed recently: every five hundred yeard a schism occurs, first the Jews, then the Muslims, then the Orthodox, then the Protestants, and now the modernists (I don';t capitalize that because they haven't decided what they want to be called yet. Maybe Vaticantwozers).

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 7:48 PM ET USA

    In fairness, I think that Logic 101 may not have been covered in seminary. That is the only *viable* excuse for Bishop Lori's post.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 7:38 PM ET USA

    "These bishops handled the sex abuse scandal as bureaucrats and not as "princes of the Church" -how can we expect them to suddenly grow backbones & a moral compass and stand up to the government?" This is quite true. What is frightening is that the Lord may see this as a time to allow sufficient persecution of Catholics to separate the goats from the sheep. Exacttly what was the ratio of faithful bishops to those who sided with Henry VIII? And what will ours be between God and Caesar?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 7:13 PM ET USA

    "neither our teaching nor our principles have changed" - Technically true. The principles haven't CHANGED; they just aren't being ACTED on. The teachings haven't changed, but by failing to uphold them against government intrusion, the American Church has completely undermined her teaching authority. These bishops handled the sex abuse scandal as bureaucrats and not as "princes of the Church" -how can we expect them to suddenly grow backbones & a moral compass and stand up to the government?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 6:39 PM ET USA

    Excellent Di. Perhaps some of those already in miters might get refitted... apparently some are way to snug.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 6:35 PM ET USA

    Let us pray to St. John Fisher Bishop and Martyr that today's bishops can live up to his and other bishop martyr's examples.

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