Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s position (shared bythe vast majority of the House GOP) advocating a complete abortion ban has brought to the forefront the issues stemming from religion in politics. Although Akin himself is not Catholic, the church has now felt it best to reiterate their own position when it comes to rape pregnancies in order to stem any confusion.
The Catechism teaches, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life (2270).
“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law (2271).”
Registered nurse Marie Hilliard, the director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a canon lawyer, echoed this point: “No matter how violently that life came into being, the second victim of the rape is the human being that, through an abortion, would be treated as a perpetrator.”
Hilliard added that while “statistics concerning the frequency of rape victims becoming pregnant from the assault are less than precise (1%-5%), the right of the victim to utilize every means to defend herself against the fertilization of her ovum (conception) is supported by Catholic health care.”
Referencing “The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities” issued by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, Hilliard noted that “medications that have the potential to stop ovulation, such as Plan B, should be provided if medical assessment of the victim indicates that ovulation can be interrupted. However, drugs, devices and procedures administered at a time when they will have an abortifacient effect violate human life and dignity” and thus cannot be used.
Wait, what? Now they are saying Plan B is contraception and not an “abortion causing drug”? Doesn’t that run completely opposite of the entire argument for rejecting the contraception mandate in the first place? In fact Akin himself is a prime example, as he had already stated publicly that Plan B was an “abortion drug” and he would want to make its use illegal.
Is Plan B a form of contraception only when used by victims of rape but not when used after unprotected consensual sex? How can church leaders agree that emergency contraception can be used as a means of preventing ovulation to avoid a pregnancy after a rape but not agree that contraception in general applied to prevent pregnancy in consenting relationships is also a way to prevent pregnancy?