Prolife Forum: Sexual assault

Sexual assault QUESTION from Connie on April 13, 2002 Dear Troy,
This is my first time on the board and I noticed a question posted back in 9/01 that I would like to address. I have not seen a post on this since so I hope this is alright.
With regard to sexual assault I would like to quote from the 'Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services' by the National Conference on Catholic Bishops. ERD 37 reads:
Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials, offer the person psychological and spiritual support and accurate medical information. 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 prevent conception. It is vital that appropriate testing be done and this would include: 1. Testing to determine whether conception has already occurred - serun pregnancy test 2. Pregnancy may be too new to be detected so this in itself is not enough. 3. Determine the stage of ovulation: - serum progesterone level - urine LH level
The test results direct the administration of the medication. Using this protocol gives a high degree of moral certainty that the EC medication will be acting only as a contraceptive and not an abortifacient.

These are established protocols that are in place in some Catholic hospitals. The most common known would be the 'Peoria Protocol' developed by Dr.Gerald McShane along with St Francis Medical Center Ethic's committee in Peoria, IL.
This protocol is found in the 'Catholic Health Care Ethics Manual' published for Health Care Ethic Committees by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. It is an excellent manual and chapter 11 deals with this issue in detail.
Hope this helps, Connie
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on April 21, 2002 Connie:
Thank you for your contribution. It is important to remember that these issues are both extremely sensitive and critically important. As indicated, whenever there is a chance for life, we must always choose life.
Also, it must be remembered that documents like these are meant to be guidelines to understanding the moral implications of the Church's teachings. As such, these guidelines are not infallible and can be changed as better understanding of the medical and spiritual issues involved.
The Church's teaching against contraception is infallible and cannot be changed. In reality, it is only explains the Natural Law. Obviously the Church cannot change natural law any more than a physist can change the laws of science. Natural law (like scientific law) can only be discovered and explored, not changed.
Pax Christi, Troy
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