Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Connecticut Cave-Ins: Catholic Bishops

The rundown and checklist from Catholic World News.

Explaining the Connecticut bishops' decision to allow use of Plan B in Catholic hospitals, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport blogs:

What’s really at issue here is how much testing is appropriate to ensure that Plan B does not induce the chemical abortion of a fertilized ovum.

Answer: a lot. This is not a merely theoretical question; there are human lives on the line-- not to mention the tattered credibility of the Church.

The bishop continues:

There is uncertainty about how Plan B works. Its effect is to prevent fertilization of the ovum.

True, according to the manufacturers. Plan B is advertised as preventing fertilization by inhibiting ovulation. But what if the woman has already ovulated? Already conceived?

Some believe, however, that in rare instances Plan B can render the lining of the uterus inhospitable to the fertilized ovum which must implant in it in order to survive and grow; many other experts dispute this.

Well now to be fair, it's not just "some experts" who "believe" that Plan B can flush the fertilized ovum (that is, human being) out of the uterus; that's the mainstream assumption. The US Food and Drug Administration offers this:

How does Plan B work? Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).

That's the argument from authority. Now consider the medical facts. If the woman has not yet ovulated, Plan B prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. But if ovulation has occurred, how does the pill work? It "may" prevent fertilization, or it "may" cause abortion. At best, we don't know.

So how could you be sure that Plan B would not cause an early abortion? By administering an ovulation test. Which is what the Catholic hospitals of Connecticut were doing until this week, because (Bishop Lori tells us) "the bishops thought it best." Now they think otherwise.

The Connecticut bishops considered a legal challenge to the state law, Bishop Lori reveals, but decided that the courts would not by sympathetic. (Oh, well then...) So:

“Reluctant compliance” emerged as the only viable option.

Apart from principled civil disobedience, of course. (And am I the only one who sees irony in the use of the word "viable"?)

In permitting Catholic hospitals to comply with this law, neither our teaching nor our principles have changed.

Last week the bishops said the state law imposed a morally unjustifiable obligation on hospitals. This week they say it doesn't. If you don't perceive a change in teaching, get yourself fitted for a miter.

The Kerry-esque charade.

Here's the defense offered by the Ct. Bishops:

Indeed, the Church does not teach that it is intrinsically evil to administer Plan B without first giving an ovulation test or that those who do so are committing an abortion.

Right-O, Bp. Lori. But if I recall correctly, "Prudence" is still a virtue, and virtues are still supposed to be taught, and exercised regularly by the Faithful, right?

1806 Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

Or would it be imprudent to raise that question, Excellency?

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