Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does the USCCB allow for the use of abortifacients in cases of rape? by Jamie L Manson on Aug. 28, 2012, National Catholic Reporter/ Critics Including Paul Ryan Should Check Out Catholic Bishops Guidelines


"...At its convention this week, the Republican National Committee will put forward a platform calling for a constitutional ban on abortion that makes no exceptions for rape or incest. And vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said recently in a television interview that abortion is immoral and should be illegal "regardless of the method of conception."
Ryan's statement came in the same interview where he grudgingly agrees that "rape is rape," effectively recanting his previously held position that one can distinguish "forcible rape" from other kinds of rape. If you watch the video, you may note his tone is as callous as the language he used to describe sexualized violence as just another "method of conception."
As much as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has been vilified for expressing his now-infamous lesson in "legitimate rape," at some level we must be grateful for his lack of an internal filter. If not for his candor, the convictions held both by the RNC platform and Ryan might never have come to light quite so clearly.
Several dark truths about the conservative views of rape, women's bodies and abortion were revealed by Akin's weird science. But perhaps the grimmest of all is Akin's belief that he had found a litmus test by which we can decide whether a rape truly happened or whether it was a false claim. By Akin's reasoning, if a woman didn't get pregnant from the assault, she truly was forcibly raped. However, if she did conceive, then we have reason to believe she is either making a false claim or deep down, truly wanted the sex act.
While Akin may trace his beliefs back to his ultraconservative Presbyterian Church in America roots (a church that is distinct from the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A), Paul Ryan grounds his belief in the Roman Catholic tradition. Unfortunately, for Ryan, the church's position on abortion in cases of rape and incest might not be as clear-cut as he would like.
Ryan and other Catholics who like to profess their ideas about abortion in the case of rape would do well to consult with Catholics who actually deal, often on a daily basis, with women (and undoubtedly men) who are victims of rape. A great starting point would be those who work in trauma units in Catholic hospitals.
In their invaluable "Special Report: Emergency Contraception," the Catholic Health Association takes on the topic of emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault. The issue does an excellent job of debunking the myth that the emergency contraception medication like Plan B is an abortifacient. The report was published in January 2010, two years before the battle over the Health and Human Services mandate ignited a firestorm of debate over whether, among other issues, President Barack Obama would be forcing Catholic institutions to pay for so-called abortifacients like Plan B.
Many bishops, Catholic commentators and other conservative voices continue to argue that the HHS mandate's provision of Plan B would force church institutions to violate their consciences because it can potentially cause an abortion. But a closer look at the USCCB's "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" suggests that even the U.S. bishops support the use of "medications" on victims of rape that seem to work in precisely the same way that Plan B does:
"Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization."
Although the bishops never name specific medications, it is Plan B that can "prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization." As I have written previously in NCR, Plan B releases a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone called progestin, which thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. The drug can also stop the ovaries from releasing an egg. If an egg has already been released, Plan B can slow down the movement of the egg. By slowing down both the egg and the sperm, it prevents fertilization. (Both IUDs and the controversial emergency contraception drug ella work in a similar way)..."

[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for NCR earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.]

No comments: