Emergency Contraception in Kentucky Catholic Hospitals?
By Efrain Cortes
"Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them...for everything that becomes visible is light." (Ephesians 5:11-14).
Fellow Catholics, the perverse culture of death in which we live has but one archenemy - fierce and unwavering. For there is but one institution resolute in its doctrine and fixed in its bold proclamation of it.
To be sure, those who have sought to replace or imitate this valiant adversary, have buckled before the culture's unforgiving death-grip.
Some such counterfeits, for example, have capitulated on cornerstone Christian tenets, which this age-old foe dares to profess from the putrid bowels of this most barbarous culture.
These fundamental Christian tenets include the condemnation of such debased moral evils as homosexual acts, fornication, abortion, adultery, and artificial contraception.
Yes fellow Catholics, there is but one lingering institution with the spine to stand erect and declare, with inflexible fortitude, that practices such as these are to be regarded as intrinsically evil.
That lone institution is, of course, the Roman Catholic Church.
Yet within the very walls of this sacred sanctuary, there are those who would forsake the infallible tenets of Almighty God for the fallible precepts of lawless men.
For it has been a shameful sight to behold, as appointed Catholic Bishops dispense with Christian doctrine inherent to our Catholic identity, and concoct its culturally acceptable counterpart.
The inevitable problem that emerges when one embarks upon reinventing Catholic doctrine, however, is that nettlesome two-thousand years of Christian history.
This is especially the case when the doctrine in question just so happens to address artificial contraception.
Or have those entrusted with the guardianship of our Catholic faith, so readily forgotten that in 391 A.D. St. John Chrysostom condemned the use of artificial contraception outright?
For it was in his definitive discourse, Homilies on Romans, that the great saint decisively condemned the practice when he courageously bellowed:
"Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do [we]...fight with [God's] natural laws?"
Yet this is precisely what some American Catholic Bishops appear to be engaged in:
A fight with God's natural laws.
For under the guise of "compassionate healthcare" Bishops throughout the country have allowed Catholic hospitals in their dioceses to administer emergency contraception to rape victims.
In what is perhaps the most notorious example of such doctrinal upheaval to date, the Connecticut Catholic Bishops issued a statement in September of 2007, in which they boldly professed:
"In accordance with Catholic moral teaching, [Connecticut] hospitals provide emergency contraception after appropriate testing. Under existing hospital protocols, this includes a pregnancy test and an ovulation test. Catholic moral teaching is adamantly opposed to abortion, but not to emergency contraception for rape victims."
This fallacious assertion, however, is severely impugned in paragraph 5 of the same statement wherein the Connecticut Bishops go on to state:
"Since the teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter, and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work...Catholic hospitals in the state may follow protocols that do not require an ovulation test in the treatment of victims of rape."
Let us first observe that in paragraph 2 of their statement, the Connecticut Bishops claim it is in accordance with Catholic moral teaching that emergency contraception is administered to victims of rape after appropriate testing.
Yet in paragraph 5 they state:
"...The teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter..."
Now, if the teaching authority of the Church "has not definitively resolved this matter," then in accordance with whom are they administering emergency contraception to rape victims - with or without appropriate testing?
By their own admission fellow Catholics, it is not in accordance with the teaching authority of the Church (the author of Catholic moral teaching), since such authority has not "definitively resolved this matter."
The Bishops further state:
"Catholic moral teaching is not opposed to emergency contraception for rape victims."
The legitimacy of this particular statement is seriously called into question, however, when measured up against those nettlesome two-thousand years of Christian history. For in the year 522 A.D., we find that Bishop Caesarius, in accordance with the teaching authority of the Church, proclaimed:
"...No woman may take a potion [oral contraceptive] so that she is unable to conceive...as often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty."
In spite of their assertion to the contrary, the matter in question appears to have been definitively resolved centuries ago.
Historical evidence conveniently set aside, however, we take note that in paragraph 5, the Bishops further state:
"...There is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work..."
That is to say, the Connecticut Bishops are not certain whether Plan B pills might cause an early chemical abortion, as do other artificial contraceptives.
To be sure, Paragraph 6 of the statement clearly denotes this fact when the Bishops further propose:
"If it becomes clear that Plan B pills would lead to an early chemical abortion in some instances, this matter would have to be reopened."
In other words, the Connecticut Bishops have allowed Catholic hospitals in their diocese to administer a chemical agent, which they admit, could result in an early abortion.
According to paragraph 2 of their statement, this is a possibility understood by the Bishops to be "adamantly opposed to Catholic moral teaching."
Nevertheless, it is in spite of such knowledge that in paragraph 4 of their statement the Bishops, decisively pronounce:
"To administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act."
Yet again, how could the Bishops of Connecticut arrive at such a declarative conclusion, when according to them, the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter?
Moreover, these words by the Connecticut Bishops, appear to be a direct rejection of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which in paragraph 2370, condemns all forms of contraception as:
Furthermore, the Catechism makes no exceptions in cases where an ovulation test might be administered or where an act of rape may have unfortunately taken place.
This is the great peril, which threatens Holy Mother Church fellow Catholics. For make no mistake about it, those who would adopt such unfounded doctrinal gibberish have broken effectively with authentic Catholic doctrine.
In fact, according to LifeSiteNews, Bishop Michael Sheridan, of the diocese of Colorado Springs, concurred with that assessment when in reference to the Connecticut situation, he unequivocally stated:
"How could you continue to call yourself Catholic if you were doing things that were contrary [to] Catholic teaching even if you were being forced by the state to them."
It is in light of all of this, that our burning question must now be answered:
Has this fruitless work of darkness secretly slipped through the cracks of our Kentucky Catholic Church?
Well fellow Catholics, let's get right down to it. For 'AGAINST ALL HERESIES' has uncovered good as well as bad news concerning the issue.
Allow us to begin with the good news:
In November of 1999 former Lexington Bishop, Kendrick Williams, former Louisville Archbishop, Thomas Kelly, and their brother Bishops of Kentucky issued a joint document, Reverence for Life: The Pursuit of Justice, in which they clearly declared:
"The so called emergency contraceptives (morning-after pill) have an abortifacient effect as their primary mode of action."
In January of 2004, with our newly elected Lexington Bishop, Ronald W. Gainer on board, our Kentucky Bishops opposed bill HB 87 which pertained to the dispensation of emergency contraception in the state of Kentucky.
In their distinct opposition to the bill, our Kentucky Bishops courageously stated:
"Emergency contraception can act as an abortifacient, rather than as a contraceptive in the traditional sense of the term. Therefore it is unsafe and may be toxic to developing human embryos...This bill is severely flawed when measured by our teachings regarding human life."
Now this, is the Catholic Church we know - bold, unwavering, and unabashedly counter-cultural.
What then, could possibly be the bad news?
Well the bad news fellow Catholics, is that in November of 2004, Lexington Bishop, Ronald W. Gainer, along with his brother Bishops of Kentucky, issued a document to the leaders of Catholic Health Care in this state, in which the administration of emergency contraception to rape victims was approved.
Curiously, the issuance of the document was never publicized in the diocesan newspaper, Cross Roads, and no public statement by any of the four Kentucky Bishops (at least that AGAINST ALL HERESIES has been able to track down) was ever issued.
In wishing to abide with the scriptural mandate that we expose the fruitless works of darkness, however, AGAINST ALL HERESIES is compelled to reveal what others have worked so hard to enshroud.
"For it is shameful...the things they do in secret." (Ephesians 5:12).
Now before we break down this document, it is imperative that we understand what is meant when the Catholic Church declares that a specific act is to be regarded as intrinsically evil by her members.
Intrinsically evil means that an action is evil, independent of the intention by which the action is carried out. Neither are there any circumstances under which an intrinsically evil act could possibly be justified.
For example, according to section 2356 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the act of rape is itself an intrinsically evil act.
For there is no intention or circumstance that would justify such a heinous action. The act, by its very nature, is evil. Surely we would all agree as Catholics on that particular point.
Or is there any Connecticut or Kentucky Bishop, willing to concoct an exception allowing the execution of this intrinsically evil action?
We thought not.
Yet Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, former Archbishop, Thomas C. Kelly, Bishop John J. McRaith, and Bishop Roger J. Foys have approved, in secret, the administration of an action the church has deemed to be unjustifiable - independent of the intention or circumstances surrounding it.
Now the document in question (for which 'AGAINST ALL HERESIES' will provide links at the end of this article) is entitled:
"CCK Guideline for Catholic Healthcare Institutions Treating Victims of Sexual Assault."
The document is composed of 9 pages and begins with a personal letter signed by the Kentucky Bishops.
The letter is addressed to "Leaders of Catholic Healthcare" in the state of Kentucky.
The document is heavily footnoted and even the personal letter provides a citation when making a particular point.
However, one point that remains devoid of its source is found in paragraph 2 of our Kentucky Bishops' personal letter. It states:
"In the event of an unjust sexual attack, traditional Catholic moral teaching allows for the administration of emergency contraception within certain limits."
Now this suppositious statement by our Bishops takes it a bit further than that which was issued by the Bishops of Connecticut, in that it not only attributes this "doctrine" to Catholic moral teaching, but it specifically attributes it to traditional Catholic moral teaching.
In other words, this is a doctrine that, according to our Bishops, has been traditionally taught, through the centuries(?), by the Roman Catholic Church.
Yet given its "long-standing" tradition, our Bishops are unable to provide so much as a footnote in substantiation of the doctrine.
The doctrine's "traditional" status comes into further question when one discovers that according to Chris Kahlenborn, who was allowed the spotlight in section 13 of Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae, emergency contraception reared its malevolent head, not centuries ago, but "in the late nineteen-sixties."
So just how far of a traditional span is to be attributed to this questionable doctrine?
Surely, not the same as our Catholic doctrine condemning the use of artificial contraception, which spans back to the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) 140 A.D.
For within the pages of this most ancient Catholic document, it is categorically stated:
"You shall not use potions [oral contraceptives]. You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a new-born child."
Nevertheless, On page 4 paragraph 2 of the document our Kentucky Bishops state:
"Treatment for the victim will also respect the invioable right to life by minimizing the risk to an embryo possibly present."
Such a proposed standard, however, is inherently flawed. For the risk of chemically aborting a child remains to be present, since such a risk, according to our Bishops, is not eliminated but merely "minimized."
Thus, as with the Connecticut situation, our Kentucky Bishops have allowed the use of a chemical agent, in Catholic hospitals, which could potentially end a human life.
As if this were not enough, on page 5 paragraph 2, our Kentucky Bishops continue:
"Ideally the use of emergency contraception prior to ovulation is allowed. Post ovulation, these same drugs may become an abortifacient and, in general, should not be given."
Here, our Bishops teach that prior to ovulation emergency contraception is a permissible act in the case of rape. For if administered prior to ovulation (so goes the reasoning) emergency contraception would act by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg). Thereby, preventing conception as well as an early chemical abortion.
Whether emergency contraception truly impedes ovulation, however, is a hotly contested scientific issue. This is precisely why the Bishops of Connecticut concede:
"...There is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work..."
In fact, in a study cited by Northern Kentucky Right to Life:
"...Plan B prevented ovulation in zero of 30 subjects treated 3 days before the day of ovulation, or 2 days after. Some even ovulated when the agent was given four days before mid-cycle."
More to the point, it cannot be forgotten that to deliberately halt ovulation for the purpose of preventing conception is nothing more than a direct act of sterilization. Yet another action condemned by Holy Mother Church as intrinsically evil.
As a matter of fact, in a 1952 address by Pope Pius XII to the Seventh International Hematological Congress in Rome, the Pope specifically declared that such a practice is the equivalent of a direct sterilization.
The great pope stated:
"A direct and, therefore, illicit sterilization results when ovulation is stopped."
(Emphasis belongs to Pope Pius).
Pius XII further stated:
"It is likewise necessary to reject the view of a number of doctors and moralists who permit these practices when medical indications make conception undesirable, or in other similar cases, which cannot be discussed here. In these cases the use of medication has as its end the prevention of conception by preventing ovulation. They are instances, therefore, of direct sterilization."
Observe fellow Catholics, the great Pope makes no concessions. Not even in cases where conception could be considered undesirable "or in other similar cases."
Could Pope Pius XII here be alluding to cases of rape?
This is what happens when one engages in the reinvention of Catholic doctrine fellow Catholics:
The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church knocks us up one side, and down the other - no matter who we are.
In fact, allow us to deliver one more damaging blow, compliments of Holy Mother Church:
When directly asked by LifeSiteNews whether there existed an exception for rape when administering emergency contraception, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of The Pontifical Academy for Life (a Vatican commission established by Pope John Paul II), swiftly retorted:
“No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo. It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman (the first being the rape itself).” (LifeSiteNews February 29 2008).
But back to the Kentucky Bishops:
The reasons for allowing these direct sterilizations and possible chemical abortions in our Kentucky Catholic hospitals, are stated in the final paragraph of page 9. Therein, the Bishops state:
"This CCK guideline will be of benefit to those women who have been reluctant to accept a contraceptive intervention due to their concern of an abortifacient result. This CCK guideline should provide sound information and peace of mind to both victims and the professionals caring for them."
Two pages prior, however, the Bishops, on page 7 paragraph 9, not unlike the Connecticut Bishops, concede:
"The precise mode of action of emergency oral contraception is not yet known..."
Now, exactly how can our Kentucky Bishops alleviate the victim's or the professional's concern of an abortifacient effect or offer them peace of mind, when the intervention's precise mode of action is unknown?
Fellow Catholics, the only path to alleviating such a concern or providing true peace of mind is through the unrestrained transmission of authentic Catholic doctrine.
For true Catholic doctrine does not have to be fabricated in order to be "compassionate." True Catholic doctrine fellow Catholics, is intrinsically compassionate.
For true Catholic doctrine, by its very nature, is intimately rooted in the best possible interest of our suffering human species both physically, and most especially, spiritually.
Unfounded doctrinal inventions, on the other hand, lead to sex abuse scandals; they lead to homosexuality within the priesthood, direct sterilizations, early chemical abortions, and the loss of precious souls.
Darkness having been exposed fellow Catholics, allow us to bask in the glorious light of Jesus Christ.
God bless fellow Catholics.
Please pray unceasingly for all of our Catholic Bishops.
If you would like the Vatican to address this issue, you may politely contact the Pontifical Academy for Life at:
"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191]).
“Contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that, in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.” (Pope John Paul II 1984).
"Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman.” (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae 1968).
“The Vatican did not need to invent any new teaching on the Plan B pills because these pills fall into the category of abortifacient contraception, pure and simple. The consistent teaching of our Church on abortion applies here.” (Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, quotation from “A ‘seriously flawed’ decision in Connecticut,” The [Los Angeles] Tidings, October 19, 2007).