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Prolife Forum: ERD and ECP

by Catherine Frakas 31 May 2002

ERD and ECP QUESTION from Connie on April 22, 2002 Hi Troy,
Thank you for your response to my post. I appreciate your feedback. I am aware they are guidelines which help direct the medical care of the patient as to not violate Catholic moral teaching. Maybe I should have posted the complete ERD:
37. 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 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.
I think that considering the sensitive and critical importance of this issue and the morality of an action and its intent, the directive although as you say is not 'infallible', gives a high degree of certitude that when or even if there is a chance for life, that the choice is made for life.
I am totally in agreement with the Church's teaching on life and contraception. I am also confident that if a greater understanding of both the medical and spiritual issues should advance to a point that would call for a modification, that the medical and bioethic community of men and women who struggle everyday to maintain the highest degree of ethics and morality in total submission to the authority and moral teachings of our Church will continue to do so. I quote this from the Catholic Health Care Ethic Manual published by the NCBC:

If this opinion (referring to the protocol for administration of EC after sexual assault and the fulfillment of the traditional three moral fonts) is found in error by the magisterium, or is found to be in any way inconsistent with the teaching of the magisterium, then we will gladly retract the opinion and uphold the teaching of the magisterium. Peter J. Cataldo Albert S. Moraczewski, OP
As a sexual assault nurse examiner this was critical to me. As a Catholic it is essential to me that decisions I would make in my profession be in line with the moral teachings of the Church. As a lay person I must trust the authority of the Bishops to be united with the Roman Pontiff in this situation. I believe it states in the New Catholic Catechism that Bishops are the successors to the Apostles, and they have been given great authority.
Respectfully, Connie
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on July 4, 2002 Dear Connie:
Thank you for your post. It is good to see medical leaders trying to do the right thing and submitting to the authority of the Church.
My only problem is that I don't think we can accurately know the moment of conception as precisely as this statement requires. Thus, those who would try to undermine the Church's stance on defense of life (especially liberal staff members at Catholic hospitals) can use statements like the above to try to get around the Church's teachings.
That being said, honestly adhered to this statement is a good beginning towards a strong defense of life.
Continuing to pray for all medical professionals to always follow the Hypocratic oath: First, do no harm.
Peace, Troy
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