Plan B and Rape Victims

Greetings I had an interesting conversation with someone recently who said something along the lines of this.

In the case of a women being rapped and penetration happening it is permissible, assuming that fertilization has not occurred, that a women can take medication that will prevent pregnancy. Now knowing how anti-contraceptives the Church is, a red flag went up in my mind. After some basic research I ran into this.

In 2001 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued their revised “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services”. Directive 36 states:

“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. It is not permissible, however, to 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”

this came from this article and really only examines how this is interpreted.

Now from my limited knowledge of this issue this is how I see it.

  1. contraceptives are wrong simply because they close off the possibility of having a child in the act of intercourse. The Church has always taught that married couples in order to fully love each other must be open to the possibility of having a child when they have sex.
  2. rape being forced intercourse changes this no love is involved, I think the USCCB is arguing that a women has the ability to try and prevent conception from a rape because it was forced on her. This means that pills that prevent contraception after the sexual act has taken place is permissible according to the USCCB because it is the women defending herself from conception.
  3. I would imagine someone may try and turn this argument on itself by saying that any women after she has sex could morally do this because she isn’t doing it in the sexual act itself, but first that shows that she was never open to the possibility of children and it wasn’t a rape so the sperm wasn’t forced on her.


Note: I have not taken a side on this all I’m doing is presenting my understanding of what the USCCB is trying to say here.

A rape victim may morally attempt to prevent conception. But the problem with Plan B and other pills isn’t just that they prevent fertilization, but they can act as an abortifacient because they prevent implantation, which ends the new human life. The pills are intended to prevent ovulation but the “fail safe” is that they change the uterine lining to prevent implantation.

first let me say that I agree with you but just playing a-little devils advocate I have heard some claim that the MAP doesn’t cause a miscarriage.

this article claims that plan B doesn’t cause abortoins

note: please ignore that it comes from NCreporter and that there is obviously a very liberal bias in the article. Also it doesn’t make clear how the journal defined pregnancy which would be huge in this discussion.

If you read the article if the rape victim is found to be pregnant after medical checks she cant take the tablet…if after medical checks sge is found to be not pregnant then she may take it…

This is my understanding too. There are many advocates who try to claim that tugger drugs are not abortifacient however to argue this they attempt to redefine “conception” as occurring at the time of implantation and not the time of fertilisation.

From a legalistic perspective the above advice about the morality of using these drugs would require the woman involved to be habitually recording or charting her signs of fertility Abe therefore be able to identify that she had not yet ovulated in that cycle but is at risk of doing so in the coming 4 or 5 days

a single blood test without a history of that woman’s normal hormone levels would not provide conclusive proof of this.

From a practical point of view how would a clinician or counselor in a rape crisis center use this advice?
“Here let me test you. … If you’ve already ovulated then you’re on your own but if not we can give you plan b”?
I would see this as a very difficult position to put the counselors. … But luckily I’m not in that job. I dont have the necessary tact.

The key is IF A WOMAN HAD NOT OVULATED at the time of the rape. A simple LH:Fsh hormone blood test can confirm this and should be standard atty the hospital.

and they can know this before implantation?

I’m finding this post very interesting indeed. Before I became Catholic (Easter 2013), I obtained my SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) degree. I took call and do forensic testing on sexual assault patients, and victims of domestic violence. This is a part time position at the hospital where I work as an RN.
Part of this position required me to offer, and administer Plan B to these sexual assault patients. During my RCIA, I looked into this in detail, and decided to stop working in this position even though a great deal of it was for the good of the patient (in the courtroom). Much of it entailed victims of domestic violence also.
I don’t have any answers, but am very interested in this discussion.

It’s all about intent.

Did you do your due diligence to make sure you’re not killing someone?
If yes, then end the ongoing rape of having the offender’s sperm in the woman’s system.
If, however, there is a new life involved. We must do our best to recognize the grace that is involved in that miracle and most of all must value all human life.

Now, please don’t read on if you are determined to actually follow that permissible course of action granted by the USCCB. I have a personal experience to share that may plant a seed of doubt.

I was practicing NFP and should not have been pregnant; but this being my 9th pregnancy, I’ve pretty much come to know when I am from the moment I am pregnant.
So, I had my blood drawn to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before getting some routine dental x-rays. It came back negative; I got the x-rays and come to find out a month later that (according to ultrasound) I had been 2.5 weeks along when my blood showed me as negative.

Why bring it up? To point out that there are not absolutes when we are talking about reproduction and most of all to let potential moms-to-be know that they should listen to their “gut” about new life in them. Don’t be afraid to be courageous; and don’t beat yourself up if you made/make the wrong call. (I got the x-rays). We are only human.

I had to study this while in seminary in my moral theology courses. The bishops of the state of Connecticut gave permission for Plan B to be administered to rape victims in Catholic hospitals in the state of Connecticut.

It’s important to distinguish between Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception that are abortifacients. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. published an article that appeared in the WInter 2007 edition of The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. I don’t have a link (just a .pdf file saved on my computer). But, allow me to sum up what the article says.

Essentially, Plan B does NOT act as an abortifacient, despite its manufacturers claims. Scientific study demonstrates that Plan B (as opposed to drugs such as RU-486 or Ella) does not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum. Rather, Plan B prevents ovulation.

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The test detects hormones released when ovulation has occurred. If the hormones have not been released, then ovulation did not occur, and thus fertilizer is impossible. There is also a pregnancy test that checks for a fertilized embryo.

The emergency medication, if then administered, would then prevent ovulation from occurring, thus continuing to make fertilization impossible.

Implantation is impossible without fertilization, which is impossible without ovulation.

It is not necessarily “Plan B” that is administered, but any anti-ovulant medication the doctor believes has minimal risk to an undetected fetus.

I don’t doubt you but do you have a link explaining some of these things?

Yes you can tell when a woman had populated. That is when she CANNOT use Plan B.

You don’t get a “baseline” of hormones to compare. You get a ratio of luteinizing hormone to follicle stimulating hormone.

IF a woman has ovulated, even though the egg may not be fertilized OR implanted, she MAY NOT take Plan B.

So much for typing without my specs on! :slight_smile:

If you look through the “Library” linked to in the header of this page, you should probably find relevant literature.

thanks :slight_smile:

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