In the February 17 issue of Today’s Catholic, the official newspaper of the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese, a reader posed the following question:
“Does the church ever approve of the use of artificial birth control?”
In the response the following statement is made:
“The only time that the church approves of artificial birth control is when a woman has been raped, and the possibility exists of preventing the sperm from fertilizing an egg.”
Well, that is not quite what the Church teaches. In his historic encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wrote the following: (#15)
Lawful Therapeutic Means
15. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)
Needless to say, rape is not a “bodily disease." I have in fact scoured official Church teaching to make sure that this is the only reference to the possibility of using contraception in a “lawful, therapeutic” way, and this is indeed the only reference to be found.
I find it incredibly sad that so many of the Bishops continue, through their official publications and public statements, to confuse the Catholic laity. What is even more disastrous in my opinion is the disservice it does to those who are not familiar with Catholic teaching but look to the Church for moral leadership in difficult areas such as appropriate treatment for the rape victim.
As if all this were not confusing enough for most people, we also know from the scientific evidence that the contraceptive pill, including the morning after pill, can and does abort a preborn child. As Christopher Kahlenborn, M.D. has written:
“…since the medical evidence shows that EC [a mega dose birth control pill] has the potential to adversely alter the endometrial lining and that it does not consistently stop ovulation when given in the preovulatory phase, there is a definite potential for EC to abort a newly conceived child when given in the preovulatory phase.
“In conclusion, EC has the potential to abort a newly conceived child in the preovulatory, ovulatory and postovulatory phases. Because the potential for abortion exists, it cannot be ethically given to rape victims in any stage of the menstrual cycle.”
Please pray for the United States Bishops.