The Catholic Church’s condemnation for abortifacient contraception remains pretty well established. Those running US Catholic hospitals would certainly be aware of the Church’s teaching. So, we can expect all such hospitals to comply and to never dispense the drugs, right?
Well, not so much.
According to Dr. Chris Kahlenborn, a member of the Catholic Medical Association and a physician based in Pennsylvania, at least 75% of US Catholic hospitals dispense “emergency contraceptives.” Dr. Kahlenborn is quoted extensively in an article written by Doug Bean in the Summer 2017 edition of Celebrate Life Magazine, titled “The Plan B Controversy.” (In full disclosure, I have written for Celebrate Life Magazine in the past.)
WHY WOULD US CATHOLIC HOSPITALS DOLE OUT ABORTIFACIENT CONTRACEPTIVES?
As Bean explains in his well-written article, female rape victims are often prescribed so-called “emergency contraceptives.” If the medical staff can determine a female rape victim remains within five days of menstruation, the thinking goes these drugs will prevent ovulation. Healthcare providers have technology capable these days of determining if a woman has ovulated or if it will occur soon. Since the drug is said to prevent the release of an ovum, no pregnancy could result from the rape.
There are many products containing high doses of levonorgestrel aside from Plan B, and they often go by the moniker, “the morning-after pill.” Popular thinking on these drugs remains that they prevent fertilization by preventing ovulation.
In fact, in 1995 the Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, John J. Myers initiated directives that permitted such drugs to be given to rape victims, so long as conception has not taken place. This became known as the ‘Peoria Protocol.’ In turn, most US Catholic hospitals have seemingly followed suit.
Moreover, the USCCB’s “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” permits US Catholic hospitals and other medical facilities to dispense emergency contraception in order to prevent ovulation or fertilization. It also makes clear the drugs cannot be administered if a “fertilized ovum” (a.k.a. a human being) already exists.
SO, WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
Except, that’s not how Plan B works.
“The main argument that Plan B stops ovulation is not even an argument at this point,” says Dr. Kahlenborn. “There’s no basis in research for that claim anymore,” he adds.
Dr. Kahlenborn has researched levonorgestrel drugs like Plan B for 20 years. He has a mountain of evidence proving Plan B works as an abortifacient. In fact, he points out the world’s top researchers have published studies showing Plan B does not prevent ovulation. These researchers include Planned Parenthood-supporters, Drs. Horacio Croxatto and James Trussell.
Based on this mounting evidence, the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), which is the nation’s largest organization of Catholic professionals in healthcare, has sided with Dr. Kahlenborn. The CMA has taken the position that the distribution of Plan B leaves open the potential for chemical abortions to occur post-ovulation and therefore is unethical. The CMA therefore sees the Peoria Protocol as faulty.
What is more, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a division of the Vatican, released a document in 2008 called Dignitas Personae that pertains to this matter, as Bean notes. It states uses of so-called “emergency contraception” “fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral” (#23). Still, this hardly seems to have moved the needle here in the US.
“The bishops refer to the theologians [for moral guidance]… But it really is a scientific question at this point,” Dr. Kahlenborn argues. As the scientists have proven at this point, Plan B works as an abortifacient. The case is closed.
WHY THEN DO US CATHOLIC HOSPITALS CONTINUE TO ADMINISTER ABORTIFACIENTS?
How come US Catholic hospitals do not stop dispensing drugs proven to kill the smallest members of the human race? This question puzzles Dr. Kahlenborn and his colleagues who are trying to persuade bishops to change their positions.
Dr. Kahlenborn thinks the USCCB takes their cues from the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC). Since the NCBC has yet to reach the same conclusion as the CMA, the USCCB has not either. “We’re constantly studying this. We just don’t think the evidence is there,” Dr. John Haas, president of the NCBC responds in the article by Celebrate Life Magazine.
“It’s simply incomprehensible that the NCBC remains in denial regarding the most recent evidence,” Dr. Kahlenborn replies.
Incomprehensible, indeed. How many of our preborn brothers and sisters need to die before US Catholic hospitals ditch the Peoria Protocol?
What is your opinion of how US Catholic hospitals should handle this?
Please leave your thoughts below.