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Sarah wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm confused about the Catholic policy on emergency contraception after rape.

Some theologians believe that emergency contraception, when in the context of rape, serves to protect a woman from her aggressor's sperm, and is therefore permissible. The belief is that a woman has the moral right to protect herself from a rapist's sperm. Catholic hospitals will allow the administration of "Plan B" after it can reasonably be established that ovulation has not occurred. If ovulation has occurred, fertilization may have occurred, and in that case the emergency contraception should not be given.

I am currently in Med. school.

  • If I become an ER physician, is it a grave evil to administer emergency contraception in the case of rape?

Not all hospitals require ovulation testing.

  • Is it evil to administer emergency contraception in the absence of an ovulation test, with only a negative pregnancy test?

I have been unable to find an official Vatican statement regarding contraception in the case of rape. Please note that I do understand that abortion is never permissible.

I am asking about "Plan B", emergency contraception. If you are interested, I've included a link to an article from Father William Saunders, dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College.


  { If I become an ER physician, is it a grave evil to administer emergency contraception for rape? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Sarah —

The debate of so-called emergency contraception is not a debate over contraception but over abortion. All agree that the victim has a right to defend against the other's sperm. The question is whether or not the emergency contraception that is given is abortifacient. There is conflicting information on whether or not it is abortifacient.

  1. If it is given to prevent ovulation, and it is determined that ovulation has not occurred, then that is fine.
  2. If the women is in the post-fertile phase, it is fine.

There is no Vatican Statement because the issue is undecided, though we know that any drug that is definitely abortifacient may not be used if the woman may be pregnant. For a good outlay of the medicine and the bioethical thinking among theologians, go to
the website of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Mary Ann

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