Commentary by Judie Brown
When I read the news, my first thought was, "This can't be true!" But unfortunately, it is. The Connecticut Catholic Conference caved in to political pressure and agreed to provide the morning-after pill to victims of sexual assault when “appropriate testing” is used to determine that the victim is not already with child.
This is deceptive rhetoric of the worst kind. What kind of “appropriate testing” exists for a woman violated by criminal assault so that whether or not she has become pregnant from the rape can be determined beyond the shadow of a doubt? There is no such testing. The only reliable form of testing detects the presence of human chorionic gonadotrophin, which is only secreted after implantation. Because a pregnancy test prior to implantation won’t tell you if fertilization has taken place and the morning-after pill prevents implantation after fertilization, the caveat for “appropriate testing” in the CCC’s statement is scientifically meaningless
Some will argue that early pregnancy research has advanced to the point where the preimplantation signals from the human embryo can be detected prior to implantation. However there is no standard assay testing at this time that can confirm or deny beyond a reasonable doubt that the human embryo either does or does not exist. The Catholic Medical Association is on record, stating: “Medical evidence demonstrates that the pregnancy tests used cannot accurately detect a pregnancy at fertilization but only after implantation which takes more than a week after the new life is formed.”
Due to this reality, it is unconscionable that any ethical practitioner of medicine, whether Catholic or not, would use a chemical to treat a patient knowing that there is a possibility that the early human embryonic child might be killed because of the way the chemical functions in the female body. And obviously it is unthinkable that a state Catholic conference would set aside the facts in this matter.
In fact, it was no less an authority than the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life that noted in its official statement on the morning after pill:
The morning-after pill is a hormone-based preparation (it can contain estrogens, estrogen/progestogens or only progestogens) which, within and no later than 72 hours after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, has a predominantly “anti-implantation” function, i.e., it prevents a possible fertilized ovum (which is a human embryo), by now in the blastocyst stage of its development (fifth to sixth day after fertilization), from being implanted in the uterine wall by a process of altering the wall itself.
The final result will thus be the expulsion and loss of this embryo.
We know that a woman of any age whose body is traumatized by the violence against her may not think clearly about whether or not she has ovulated either at, before or after the assault. We cannot take the next statement by the Pontifical Academy as a suggestion that the pill could be used in rape treatment, for the Academy declares:
Only if this pill were to be taken several days before the moment of ovulation could it sometimes act to prevent the latter (in this case it would function as a typical “contraceptive”).
It is clear that in the case of treating the rape victim there is only one intention when using this pill and that is to stop an early embryonic child from growing and thriving within his mother. Therefore the use of such a pill is anathema to Catholic teaching on the subject.
In 1968 when Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, he made a statement in section 14 which removes all doubt regarding the rightness or wrongness of the CCC decision. He stated in this infallible document:
The direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children… 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.
Clearly, the Connecticut Catholic Conference’s statement is fraught with problematic language and thus it is my sincere conviction that the devil himself had something to do with its authorship. Of course I realize that many people scoff at the very idea of evil in any way affecting what we say or do, but I happen to believe that in fact there is evil and the author of all evil must be having a celebration in Connecticut right now.
It is no coincidence that just days before the CCC declaration was made, the president of Human Life International, Father Tom Euteneuer, wrote:
Never in the history of humanity has Satan convinced so many people to set up false idols to replace the worship of the True God. Never has Satan been so successful in getting people to abandon the worship of God and obedience to the moral law on such a massive scale.
It is clear to me that absolute obedience to the moral law requires the CCC to stand its ground and defend the principle that an embryonic human person can never be threatened, even if the likelihood is minute. Perhaps, however, it is not so clear to them. If that is the case, then it is time for the bishops of that great state to call in the experts in human embryology, Catholic moral teaching and Catholic medical ethics and study this question thoroughly.
For now, let us hope that the erroneous CCC announcement will not affect the way 49 other state Catholic conferences address the subject, or even worse, that it will somehow be used at the national level to alter the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In this case, as in all others involving the defense and protection of the human person, the devil is in the details.
Release issued: 2 Oct 07