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Archbishop Henry J. Mansell writes about Plan B and Catholic hospitals
On October 1, 2007, An Act Concerning Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, goes into effect. The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut, following extensive consultation with the leaders of our Catholic hospitals, attorneys, ethicists, and moral theologians, have issued the following statement:
The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut, joined by the leaders of the Catholic hospitals in the State, issue the following statement regarding the administration of Plan B in Catholic hospitals to victims of rape:
The four Catholic hospitals in the State of Connecticut remain committed to providing competent and compassionate care to victims of rape. In accordance with Catholic moral teaching, these hospitals provide emergency contraception after appropriate testing. Under the existing hospital protocols, this includes a pregnancy test and an ovulation test. Catholic moral teaching is adamantly opposed to abortion, but not to emergency contraception for victims of rape.
This past spring, the Governor signed into a law An Act Concerning Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, passed by the State Legislature. It does not allow medical professionals to take into account the results of the ovulation test. The Bishops and other Catholic health care leaders believe that this law is seriously flawed, but not sufficiently to bar compliance with it at the present time. We continue to believe this law should be changed.
Nonetheless, to administer Plan B pills in Catholic hospitals to victims of rape, a pregnancy test to determine that the woman has not conceived is sufficient. An ovulation test will not be required. The administration of Plan B pills in this instance cannot be judged to be the commission of an abortion because of such doubt about how Plan B pills and similar drugs work and because of the current impossibility of knowing from the ovulation test whether a new life is present. To administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.
Since the teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work, the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut have stated that Catholic hospitals in the State may follow protocols that do not require an ovulation test in the treatment of victims of rape. A pregnancy test approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration suffices. If it becomes clear that Plan B pills would lead to an early chemical abortion in some instances, this matter would have to be reopened.
Simply put, the Statement indicates that the Catholic hospitals in Connecticut will no longer require an ovulation test before administering emergency contraception pills at the womans request.
Catholic hospitals will continue to administer a pregnancy test to determine if the woman has conceived.
If the pregnancy test is positive, contraceptive medication will not be administered.
This policy is consistent with the new law and with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Catholic teaching is adamantly opposed to abortion, but not opposed to emergency contraception for a woman who is a victim of rape.
The four Catholic hospitals in Connecticut are: St. Francis Hospital, Hartford; St. Marys Hospital, Waterbury; St. Raphaels Hospital, New Haven; and St. Vincents Hospital, Bridgeport. They have all been renowned for generations for the compassionate and understanding care they provide for victims of sexual assault.