Connecticut bishop blogs about abortifacients in Catholic hospitals

Over at Shouts I learned of the existence of an episcopal blog.  H.E. Most Rev. William Lori, Bp. of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, is now blogging.

As an interesting coincidence I also learned of a story on Lifesite entitled "Bishops Conferences Admit to Approving Abortifacient Drugs for Rape at Catholic Hospitals". 

One of the conferences in question is that of Connecticut.

Someone asked His Excellency on his blog about the contradiction in bishops "approving" abortifacients in Catholic hospitals.

Q: I’m confused. Please help me understand. I thought that the Catholic Church teaches that contraception and abortifacients should never be used for any reason. I thought I read in your post that the Church allows “Plan B”, which aborts a fertilized egg, to be used in the case of sexual assault. I may have misinterpreted you, please clarify. ~ Joe, Bridgeport

Bp. Lori’s Answer: This is a complex issue. The Church opposes contraception under normal circumstances but allows it so that a victim can defend herself against the grave injustice of a sexual assault. The so-called “Plan B” medication either works to prevent ovulation (and thus is a contraceptive) OR to prevent implantation, depending on the woman’s cycle when the medicine is administered (and thus could cause an early abortion). That is why the LH / ovulation test is so critical. The Church forbids us to give Plan B once ovulation has occurred as then it could possibly work as an abortifacient. Legislation passed in the Senate last week prevents our Catholic Hospitals from performing this LH test while requiring the administration of Plan B.

So, Bishop Lori is stating that…

a) the Church permits contraception (prevention of ovulation) in the case of sexual assault,
b) Plan B prevents ovulation (= contraception) OR implantation (= abortion),
c) if it found that ovulation has NOT taken place, then Plan B can be used,
d) Plan B cannot be used if there is a risk of prevention of implantation (= abortion).

I am just reporting what I read.

The Lifesite story says (my emphases):

The bishops of these dioceses believe they are allowing the use of emergency contraception only in cases where "appropriate testing" has determined that the woman is not pregnant and thus the pill, in halting ovulation may prevent a pregnancy occurring as a result of the rape.  The science however does not definitively back up their hopes.

Medical evidence, accepted by the largest association of Catholic doctors in the United States, 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.  A more stringent protocol known as the ovulation method used in some Catholic hospitals, seeks to determine if the patient has ovulated and if the test indicates she has not, the pills can be given.  However, medical evidence demonstrates considerable doubt that even these tests can detect a potential fertilization in time to prevent an abortion caused by  administration of the pill. (for a detailed look at this aspect of the medical evidence see here:…)

Even if such tests could accurately determine that ovulation has not yet occurred another difficulty exists.  A study by Dr. Chris Kahlenborn in 2003 found that the pill only works to halt ovulation half the time.  Thus fertilization may occur even after the pill is administered, and an abortion would result since in addition to stopping ovulation the pills act to weaken the lining of the uterus making implantation unsustainable.  See Dr. Kahlenborn’s study here:  

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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