Catholic Hospital Standard May Emerge on Morning After Pill-Rape Cases

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Hospital Standard May Emerge on Morning After Pill-Rape Cases Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 12, 2006

Hartford, CT ( — A debate has been raging in Connecticut about whether Catholic and other hospitals should be forced to give morning after pills to women who are victims of rape or incest. The debate comes after the state’s bishops put in place a new policy at hospitals that could lead to a nationwide standard.

Several months ago, two of the state’s bishops determined that a new policy was needed to make sure that morning after pills were not causing abortions when rape victims came in for the drugs.

According to an Associated Press report, Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell and Bridgeport Bishop William Lori asked Catholic ethicists for help in crafting the policy.

The ethicists suggested following what was known as the Peoria Protocol, first put in place by a Catholic hospital in Peoria, Illinois to help physicians in its emergency room.

The protocol calls for testing rape victims to determine whether the woman has ovulated before giving her the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion if fertilization has already occurred.

The Plan B drug can only be prescribed for a woman who hasn’t already ovulated.

The AP report says the Catholic hospitals in Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Haven have been using the Peoria Protocol since January.

Barry Feldman, general counsel for St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, told AP the policy is in line with Catholic teachings on abortion and the beginning of human life at conception.

"Catholic moral teachings allow the woman to protect herself from possible conception as a result of the assault so long as any medications administered to do so do not cause an abortion," he explained.

Deirdre McQuade, who helps conduct pro life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said national policies do not set out directives for Catholic hospitals in this area. She indicated individual bishops have the ability to decide appropriate policies for themselves.

"What they do is set a spirit of the law standard — human life cannot be violated or destroyed in seeking to serve the victims of rape," McQuade told AP.