German Catholics allow morning-after pill in rape cases
#31
I think the following statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life might be of some help in this discussion.

PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE
STATEMENT ON THE SO-CALLED
"MORNING-AFTER PILL"



As is commonly known, the so-called morning-after pill recently went on sale in Italian pharmacies. It is a well-known chemical product (of the hormonal type) which has frequently - even in the past week - been presented by many in the field and by the mass media as a mere contraceptive or, more precisely, as an "emergency contraceptive", which can be used within a short time after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, should one wish to prevent the continuation of an unwanted pregnancy. The inevitable critical reactions of those who have raised serious doubts about how this product works, namely, that its action is not merely "contraceptive" but "abortifacient", have received the very hasty reply that such concerns appear unfounded, since the morning-after pill has an "anti-implantation" effect, thus implicitly suggesting a clear distinction between abortion and interception (preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum, i.e., the embryo, in the uterine wall).
Considering that the use of this product concerns fundamental human goods and values, to the point of involving the origins of human life itself, the Pontifical Academy for Life feels the pressing duty and definite need to offer some clarifications and considerations on the subject, reaffirming moreover already well-known ethical positions supported by precise scientific data and reinforced by Catholic doctrine.
*   *   *
1. The morning-after pill is a hormone-based preparation (it can contain oestrogens, oestrogen/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.

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").

However, the woman who uses this kind of pill does so in the fear that she may be in her fertile period and therefore intends to cause the expulsion of a possible new conceptus; above all, it would be unrealistic to think that a woman, finding herself in the situation of wanting to use an emergency contraceptive, would be able to know exactly and opportunely her current state of fertility.

2. The decision to use the term "fertilized ovum" to indicate the earliest phases of embryonic development can in no way lead to an artificial value distinction between different moments in the development of the same human individual. In other words, if it can be useful, for reasons of scientific description, to distinguish with conventional terms (fertilized ovum, embryo, fetus, etc.) different moments in a single growth process, it can never be legitimate to decide arbitrarily that the human individual has greater or lesser value (with the resulting variation in the duty to protect it) according to its stage of development.

3. It is clear, therefore, that the proven "anti-implantation" action of the morning-after pill is really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion. It is neither intellectually consistent nor scientifically justifiable to say that we are not dealing with the same thing.

Moreover, it seems sufficiently clear that those who ask for or offer this pill are seeking the direct termination of a possible pregnancy already in progress, just as in the case of abortion. Pregnancy, in fact, begins with fertilization and not with the implantation of the blastocyst in the uterine wall, which is what is being implicitly suggested.

4. Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly co-operate with this procedure are also morally responsible for it.

5. A further consideration should be made regarding the use of the morning-after pill in relation to the application of [Italian] Law 194/78, which in Italy regulates the conditions and procedures for the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

Saying that the pill is an "anti-implantation" product, instead of using the more transparent term "abortifacient", makes it possible to avoid all the obligatory procedures required by Law 194 in order to terminate a pregnancy (prior interview, verification of pregnancy, determination of growth stage, time for reflection, etc.), by practising a form of abortion that is completely hidden and cannot be recorded by any institution. All this seems, then, to be in direct contradiction to the correct application of Law 194, itself debatable.

6. In the end, since these procedures are becoming more widespread, we strongly urge everyone who works in this sector to make a firm objection of moral conscience, which will bear courageous and practical witness to the inalienable value of human life, especially in view of the new hidden forms of aggression against the weakest and most defenceless individuals, as is the case with a human embryo.
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#32
(02-23-2013, 12:01 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: Well, I am not sure that it does say it all, as I wrote a bit more than that. The fact that one has some awareness of the gravity of the matter under discussion and some sympathy for rape victims and their families does not mean that one cares only about popularity. If anything, I think it demonstrates a willingness to deal with the real world rather than some abstraction in which one can casually and reflexively pronounce rigorous and extreme moral judgments without having to consider the situation fully. Yes, the world will often hate Christians for holding to their faith. As Our Lord said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." However, it is all too easy to use this sort of thing to justify things that really have nothing to do with the faith. If we are hated, it should be because we follow Christ, not because we take extreme positions that seemingly have nothing to do with Our Lord. After all, Christ was not hated because he had no sympathy for those who were suffering or who found themselves in tough situations. Rather, Our Lord was hated partly because he was concerned so much for these people. If we are to be hated, it should be for the same reason. The world hated Hitler and Stalin, too, but this does not show that either man was good.

To imply that I (and the countless anti-contraception Catholics throughout the past 2000 years) have no sympathy for victims of rape because I oppose the killing of the wholly innocent child that may have resulted from the wicked sin is disingenuous, disgusting, and entirely unnecessary.

(02-23-2013, 12:01 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: In any case, you have yet to demonstrate, or really even argue, that preventing conception from occurring in cases of rape is immoral. Until this is done, I am not sure why we should be expected to simply accept an unsupported pronouncement on the matter. I'm sure everyone here would consider the argument if someone were to make a case for the immorality of preventing conception in these cases.

I find it troubling that I need to, but....




Elio Cardinal Sgreccio, President emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life Wrote:But the position of the church is the same. The morning after pill is dangerous; is an abortifacient when there is a conception and so illicit to prescribe by doctors. Thus, there is the same position from the beginning of the presentation of this pill.  It is not medicine, not a composition for health, so physicians are not obliged to prescribe it. It is forbidden for Catholic doctors to prescribe it and also to be requested by Catholics.

(then-Bp Sgreccio was then asked by a reporter if the morning-after pill can be given to a rape victim; His Excellency's response:)

No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo. It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman (the first being the rape itself).

Fr Peter Damian Fehlner, FI Wrote:Prevention of procreation is intrinsically evil prior to and independently of any good end which might be achieved thereby, such as avoiding further violence at the hands of a rapist. The woman may certainly resist and should resist to the limit permitted by divine law any sexual assault. But she may not do this by using a means which is intrinsically evil, in this case considering the conception of a child an act of violence justifying the use of contraception.

Instructio "Dignitas Personae", CDF Wrote:. Alongside methods of preventing pregnancy which are, properly speaking, contraceptive, that is, which prevent conception following from a sexual act, there are other technical means which act after fertilization, when the embryo is already constituted, either before or after implantation in the uterine wall. Such methods are interceptive if they interfere with the embryo before implantation and contragestative if they cause the elimination of the embryo once implanted.

In order to promote wider use of interceptive methods, it is sometimes stated that the way in which they function is not sufficiently understood. It is true that there is not always complete knowledge of the way that different pharmaceuticals operate, but scientific studies indicate that the effect of inhibiting implantation is certainly present, even if this does not mean that such interceptives cause an abortion every time they are used, also because conception does not occur after every act of sexual intercourse. It must be noted, however, that anyone who seeks to prevent the implantation of an embryo which may possibly have been conceived and who therefore either requests or prescribes such a pharmaceutical, generally intends abortion.

When there is a delay in menstruation, a contragestative is used, usually one or two weeks after the non-occurrence of the monthly period. The stated aim is to re-establish menstruation, but what takes place in reality is the abortion of an embryo which has just implanted.

As is known, abortion is "the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth". Therefore, the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral. Furthermore, when there is certainty that an abortion has resulted, there are serious penalties in canon law.

Humanae Vitae Wrote: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.
.......

Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII.

St Jerome Wrote:But others drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived.

St John Chrysostom, homily 24 on the Letter to the Romans Wrote:For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevent its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?

St Caesarius of Arles, sermon 1 Wrote:Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell.

et cetera
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#33
I think I see the misunderstanding here. No one is arguing that abortion is legitimate in cases of rape. The situation being discussed here is one in which a woman has been raped but conception has not yet occurred. In these cases, it is argued, it is acceptable to use a contraceptive in order to prevent conception. This is not abortion since life begins at conception. A couple of those quotations deal with contraception, but surely rape is an exceptional case. The woman did not choose to have sex, so it seems problematic to suggest that she is violating the procreative end of sexual intercourse by using a contraceptive after the rape. The rapist negated both the procreative and unitive ends of sexual intercourse, which are interrelated, when he committed the rape, and so it does not seem that we can regard a rape as just another act of sexual intercourse without its own unique realities.
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#34
The bishops' directive is inadequately ambiguous but essentially orthodox. If lovonorgestral is administered before the LH surge which can be determined by a blood test, it will successfully delay ovulation about 80 percent of the time. They really should have been clear that the morning after pill should only be given if bloodwork confirms that ovulation has yet to occur. The evidence of lovonorgestral's effect on implantion of fertilized embryos is unclear. In one study I recall there were around 90 embryos divided between three groups each of which was placed in a Petri dish with an endometrium construct respectively exposed to mifepristone, lovonorgestral or nothing. If I remember correctly the results were that the embryos successfully implanted 0 times in the mifepristone, 40 % of the time in the lovonorgestral and 60% in the control group. I think these results are significant enough to discourage us from prescribing lovonorgestral in cases of rape unless it is scientifically apparent that the hormonal spike preceding ovulation which is the drug's main mechanism of action has yet to occur. Since I am writing from a phone, I will wait until I am at a proper computer to reference the appropriate study.
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#35
(02-23-2013, 03:42 AM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: If a person becomes seriously ill, for example, we aren't going to tell him that he should refuse medical treatment because obviously God has decided that it is his time and this will allow him to prepare for a holy death or something. The two cases are slightly different, but the point is that, while God's providence does govern every part of creation, this does not mean that we just have to let things happen.  

No, the two cases are very different, because the one prevents a death and the other prevents a life (which unlike death is always, intrinsically good). In any case, the logic behind this is not "we must not interfere with God's plans" or even "every new life is a good", but rather that we should not mess with the process of the creation of new souls.

(02-23-2013, 12:01 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: In any case, you have yet to demonstrate, or really even argue, that preventing conception from occurring in cases of rape is immoral. Until this is done, I am not sure why we should be expected to simply accept an unsupported pronouncement on the matter. I'm sure everyone here would consider the argument if someone were to make a case for the immorality of preventing conception in these cases.  

I can't even understand why the rape case is different from any other. The rape is already over. The contraceptive will not stop the rape; it will not even lessen the emotional pain of the rape. Or are you arguing that, because they got there through rape, the sperm will be "raping" the ovum? And we must prevent he sperm from raping the ovum?

And where does it stop? If using a contraceptive after the fact is Ok because rape already tears the procreative from the unitive aspect of intercourse: should a woman guilty of adultery and who greatly grieves her sin, be able to take the morning-after pill? After all, the sperm got into her body through sin, and the pregnancy would have even worse consequences than the rape case, as it might reveal the woman's adultery and put a strain in her marriage and provoke scandal.

I don't know why you characterize this position as "extreme." I know that if I were to take this pill, I would always have that nagging feeling bothering my conscience that I may aborted a child. This is a case where it is liberating to not have to make a decision.
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#36
Part of the problem with many of the quotes listed above is that they are scientifically naive. The ancients believed that the active/formal principle of life was already contained in the seed and thus considered contraception a species of homicide. Conversely, St. Thomas--while erroneous in his determination of ensoulment--considered it per se not as a species of homicide but of usury. Usury is abuse or theft of nature (hence the reason he also lists sodomy as a species), and rape is a similar sort of theft of marital propriety. In traditional canon law, not every conception was construed as a good in toto. The defect of birth, for example, was an impediment to the reception of holy orders. Now defect is synonymous with privation and all privation is of some good, which is evil. It is not an abuse of nature to circumvent an evil outcome (the classical example in support of this opinion is that we reckon it as a crime against charity to return arms to a madman). Unlike the victim of rape, the adulterer or fornicator has committed a voluntary act usurping the marital privilege. St. Thomas says that we sin gravely even if we act contrary to erring reason--i.e. we do good accidentally. When one has made the decision to fornicate, one has implicitly and erroneously arrogated the prerogatives and rights of marriage and therefore contraception in these instances is a further insult to the dignity of the act despite the accidentally noble intention of avoiding the conception of a child with the defect of birth.
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#37
(02-23-2013, 02:30 PM)St. Drogo Wrote: Part of the problem with many of the quotes listed above is that they are scientifically naive.

Is that so? The four most relevant and condemning of the seven quotes I posted are from the past 45 years, ergo scientifically "enlightened" (to use that wonderful Modernist buzz-word).

If this is what scientific advancement is going for (i.e. assisting us to come up with excuses to rationalize sin), then I'd rather become a Luddite.  :crazy:
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#38
(02-23-2013, 01:26 PM)m.PR Wrote:
(02-23-2013, 12:01 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: In any case, you have yet to demonstrate, or really even argue, that preventing conception from occurring in cases of rape is immoral. Until this is done, I am not sure why we should be expected to simply accept an unsupported pronouncement on the matter. I'm sure everyone here would consider the argument if someone were to make a case for the immorality of preventing conception in these cases.  

I can't even understand why the rape case is different from any other. The rape is already over. The contraceptive will not stop the rape; it will not even lessen the emotional pain of the rape. Or are you arguing that, because they got there through rape, the sperm will be "raping" the ovum? And we must prevent he sperm from raping the ovum?

And where does it stop? If using a contraceptive after the fact is Ok because rape already tears the procreative from the unitive aspect of intercourse: should a woman guilty of adultery and who greatly grieves her sin, be able to take the morning-after pill? After all, the sperm got into her body through sin, and the pregnancy would have even worse consequences than the rape case, as it might reveal the woman's adultery and put a strain in her marriage and provoke scandal.

I don't know why you characterize this position as "extreme." I know that if I were to take this pill, I would always have that nagging feeling bothering my conscience that I may aborted a child. This is a case where it is liberating to not have to make a decision.

Agreed. If a couple commits fornication, they have already destroyed the purpose of the marriage act. That doesn't give them license to contracept as well.

Sin does not negate sin.
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#39
(02-23-2013, 02:50 PM)Servus Immaculatae Wrote:
(02-23-2013, 02:30 PM)St. Drogo Wrote: Part of the problem with many of the quotes listed above is that they are scientifically naive.

Is that so? The four most relevant and condemning of the seven quotes I posted are from the past 45 years, ergo scientifically "enlightened" (to use that wonderful Modernist buzz-word).

If this is what scientific advancement is going for (i.e. assisting us to come up with excuses to rationalize sin), then I'd rather become a Luddite.  :crazy:

Neither Dignitas Personae nor Humanae Vitae are theological treatises nor do they expressly concern rape. With all due respect to the dignity of his office, Fr. Fehlner is not a systematic or authoritative theologian and so I think his position is unqualified in spite of his good intentions. Lovonorgestral is almost certainly not an abortifacient if administered before the luteinizing hormone surge preceding ovulation as I argued earlier. If you object to my conclusions, please attack my faulty arguments specifically. I will be greatly obliged to you if I am proven wrong.
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#40
One wonders IF Servus Immaculatae (reply #15, reply #18, reply #20) actually read the citation in the OP?

Quote:"That can include medication with a 'morning-after pill' as long as this has a prophylactic and not an abortive effect," he said in a statement. "Medical and pharmaceutical methods that induce the death of an embryo may still not be used."

That means there is no change to the Catholic Church's ban on the so-called abortion pill
based on the drug mifepristone or RU-486, and marketed as Mifegyne or Mifeprex.

The Church remains firmly opposed to abortion and artificial birth control, but in Germany it will now differentiate between pills that prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg in the womb and pills that induce an abortion, in cases of rape.

SaintSebastian made a very appropriate observation in this regard in reply #19.

The Church teaches that a woman may only morally have semen in her when it has been placed through natural intercourse with her husband.  This prohibition extends to artificial insemination, even though its purpose is to enhance her fertility and has a specific goal of achieving conception (which is why I’m not certain that “The unitive purpose is secondary to procreation”, as argued in reply #12, as the Church does not allow them to be separated).

In the case of rape there is an egregious (IMHO) violation of the natural and moral law which ought to be dealt with in a morally appropriate manner.  I do realize that some conservatives disagree:
Quote:1. Todd Akin: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down” - mid 2012 Senate Campaign
2. Clayton Williams: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it” - mid 1990 Gubernatorial race in Texas

And there is an entire genre of quotations from “eminent” individuals suggesting that if a woman is raped she may have been “asking for it” (because of the manner of her dress, state of intoxication, etc.), but I’ll not sully the discussion with those.  It is to be noted that the article said the woman had been drugged, presumable without her knowledge and consent.

First of all a rape victim deserves compassionate pastoral and psychological (my order was by intention) care.  There is a hint in the article that this didn’t happen, and the German Bishops said: “church-run hospitals would now ensure proper medical, psychological and emotional care for rape victims … The hospitals refused to treat her because they could not prescribe the pill, which is taken after sex to avoid pregnancy.”

Two wrongs do not make a right, nor may evil be done that some good may come of it.  Bedrock stuff to be sure, but in our messy fallen world things may become more complex (which is exactly why our Lord left us a magisterium to sort some of these things out).  For example, war is (at least IMHO) never good or desirable, and it is practically impossible to have a “just war” without some collateral damage to the innocent, yet the Church upholds the morality of armed action as a “lesser of two evils” in certain defined circumstances.  Doctrines of personal self-defense would be another example, where a life could be taken to prevent the loss of other life, in certain defined circumstances.  If the victim were able to grasp a pistol or knife during the rape and dispatch the perpetrator before he ejaculated, I wonder what the thought here would be (as indeed a life would be lost in this situation, without opportunity for conversion or final penitence)? 

With that said, willful abortion is NEVER a moral option, even if the pregnancy occurred outside of the moral and natural law.  There is NO argument from me on that.  However, I’m much less certain over a situation where involuntary sexual intercourse occurred outside of the moral and natural law, if it wouldn’t be permissible to utilize recent medical knowledge and procedures to prevent an unnatural and immoral pregnancy from occurring.  Yes, I recognize the argument of “leave it in God’s hands”, but then that can sometimes be a situation of “This is a slippery slope if ever there was” (reply #13).  The same argument could also be made in regards to recapturing the Holy Land from the infidels, rather than resorting to the use of mercenaries during the Fourth Crusade.  Maybe unarmed missionaries should have been sent to convert the infidels rather than armed mercenaries, thus “leaving it in God’s hands”?  Perhaps Terri Schiavo’s life should have been “left in God’s hands” rather than reliance on rather recent and modern mechanical technology only available in the most advanced countries to people with funds?

So, if an immoral and unnatural intercourse has occurred (unless someone wants to argue that rape is normatively provided for under the natural law), and if medical science derived from our God given intellect can provide a means to prevent an illegitimate pregnancy (another issue the Church has addressed with some seriousness, because at one time bastards were barred from Holy Orders), as long as that means is not abortifactant, I don’t believe it is so “cut and dried” of an issue.  In any event I leave the answer to the magisterium of the Church, not random laity (including myself) on the internet.
:tiphat:
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