An interesting moral question

A reader sez:

Last week, I think, there was a particularly noisy thread on your blog about abortion.

One commenter was outraged about the “fact” that the Catholic church wouldn’t allow Catholic doctors to do anything about a 13-year-old girl that had been raped and just came in to the hospital. She’d just have to carry the child to term.

Well, I don’t think the objection captures the nuance of the Catholic position. The way I understand it, from reading several “conservative” Catholic medical ethics texts, there’s some room for the doctor to give the patient a postcoital birth control pill with the intent that conception not take place, if the doctor knows that conception hasn’t yet taken place. The male’s sperm has no right to be where it is, and the act of intercourse was obviously not within the context of a marriage. So this isn’t contraception in the sense that the Church opposes.

However, this would not work for someone who came in, having been raped sometime earlier, and was now, say, 10 weeks pregnant.

John Finnis, Benedict Ashley, Kevin D. O’Rourke, and some others, take this position. I can get you the citations if you’re interested.

I don’t know enough about the technology or about moral theology to make an intelligent assessment here. Offhand, it sounds as though such medication, if it does not act as an abortifacient, is legitimate. Any input from people who actually know something about moral theology and/or the technology is welcome. Light, not heat, folks.


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