Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wisconsin Bishops v. Bp. Vasa on "Plan B"

Well, it had to happen sometime.

The Wisconsin Bishops issued a "nolo contendere" regarding the Legislative initiatives to require "Plan B" abortifacients. There are a few quibbles (page 2 of the document) but they basically caved on this Planned Parenthood initiative.

They cite the Ethical and Religious Directives of the USCC:

" A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception....
if after appropriate testing...there is no evidence that conception has occurred...., she may be treated with medications that prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization.

"It is not initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum."

Yah, well...

Bishop Vasa of Oregon has a more critical take:

...Nothing is to be done which impedes the natural progress of a child already conceived. This principle, at least in the ideal, is understood and practiced in Catholic hospitals. There is a huge difficulty with Plan B. If a pregnancy is confirmed by way of a standard pregnancy test then Plan B is neither warranted nor needed since such a readily identified pregnancy would not be the result of a very recent sexual assault. If the standard pregnancy test returns a negative for pregnancy then this only proves that the woman was not pregnant prior to the assault. The critical question, which must be answered with very great care, is whether the assaulted woman has already conceived a child as a result of the assault.The answer to this question may not be able to be given with certainty and I maintain that it must be given with certainty in order to proceed with Plan B. The utilization of Plan B without this certainty runs the unjustifiable risk of destroying new life while ostensibly intending to prevent the assault from engendering that life. It turns an uncaring eye to the new life which may have already begun.

Bp. Vasa goes on to explain further:

Using a bit of verbal engineering allows the proponents to assure us that the product prevents “conception” and does not disrupt “pregnancy.” A closer look reveals that when proponents of Plan B use terms like conception or pregnancy they almost always mean an already implanted, growing baby in the womb of his or her mother. Most proponents of Plan B would maintain that pregnancy begins at implantation whereas it is much more honest to affirm that pregnancy begins at conception. Thus, though the language is the language of protecting a woman from a pregnancy as a result of sexual assault the truth is that the desire to protect a woman from such a pregnancy extends even to destroying the newly conceived child if necessary.

In other words, the pregnancy test is not really capable of determinining whether conception has occurred within 24 (or less) hours of the assault. And in the case where the question cannot be answered with moral certainty, the correct path is NOT to proceed with "Plan B."

Bp. Vasa happens to base his opinion on solid medical testimony AND on an understanding of the moral law (as enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, before that became irrelevant...) "First thing, DO NO HARM."

It would be useful for Abp. Dolan to take action correcting the Wisconsin Catholic Conference's position--sooner rather than later.

HT: Jester and Terry


Faithful Catholic said...

Dolan and the WI bishops are just following the regulations set down by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As you have probably figured out by now, Dolan is a rule follower. Whether the issue is conservative or liberal, he will simply follow what the Pope, Vatican Congregation, or US Bishops' Conference has stated.

He does not view himself has a bishop among bishops, but a good soldier who follows orders.

A Faithful Catholic

Dad29 said...

USCC's rules? Vasa read the same, identical rules, and came up withe the opposite conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Vasa reads absolute certainty which is certainly defensible. There is an additional position that tries to ascertain whether abortion is within the nature of Plan B. Alchohol can induce abortion, but we would not say it is within the nature of alcohol to cause abortion. Ergo a pregnant woman having a drink isn't trying to have an abortion unless she makes an intent to do so known.

Anonymous said...

Completing the circle, contraception is a legitimate goal of rape treatment per the USCCB, and there is wide spread belief that claims of abortive efficacy are dubious, be it prior or after implantation. There is greater known hazard propelling one's children (or a pregnant woman for that matter) at 65 mph than there is for taking Plan B.

Dad29 said...

Umnnnhhh..actually, MZ, if you keep up with the literature, there's NO doubt about the 'abortive efficacy' of B.

Dad29 said...

See, for example:

Anonymous said...

Lifesite is a notoriously awful source. I will take the clincial citations offered in American Papist's combox that reflect the most recent research.

Dad29 said...

Good for you, MZ.

Go here:

And see this:

Father Kubat emphasized that “there is no appropriate testing,” and neither would there be appropriate testing until medical science comes up with a way to determine if fertilization has occurred. He said a pregnancy or urinary test won’t show up as positive until two to three weeks after fertilization, and ovulation testing isn’t completely reliable either. “So if you give Plan B,” even if these tests have come back negative, “it could cause an abortion,” he said.

Gehr Ste'he?

Anonymous said...

Then you not what I'm referring to and are just being obnoxious. Disagree if you must but to feign ignorance over the underlying cause of both conferences' objections is not intellectually honest.

Dad29 said...

"Feign ignorance?"

Sorry. I maintain that the CONFERENCES are "feigning ignorance," and, yes, I'm being obnoxious. That's deliberate.

As I mentioned in the post, UN-certainty of the fertilization is NOT a basis on which to proceed to administer drugs which DO cause abortion by preventing implantation.

Seems clear to me, MZ.

We are dealing with life and death. It's the classic case of "are you morally certain." This ain't beanbag.