Plan B Update

The update is that there is no update–that is, no new information to reveal. But it’s been awhile since the issue was discussed on this blog and there are a few related media items worth mentioning.

There was Catholic Concerns Day, for instance. The Courant made the absurd claim that “about 100” participated (the Post put the number three times higher) and a caption under a Courant photo put the number at “dozens.” (You can also read the AP account here.)

The lede for most stories and on the liberal blogs was the Archbishop’s talk about finding a Plan B solution. But this is not news–those of us on the pro-religious liberty side have wanted a solution all along. One of the many fallacies disseminated to the public by our opponents in this debate is that it is the Church that won’t negotiate. In reality, it’s the pro-abortion side that has refused to budge.

And abortion–as the title of Barry Feldman’s Courant op-ed says–is where Catholic hospitals draw the line:

The Catholic hospitals do provide emergency contraception, or Plan B, when that hormonal medication can act as a contraceptive.

The Catholic hospitals do not provide Plan B only when the victim of sexual assault is already in the ovulation stage of her cycle.

In such cases, Plan B cannot act as a contraceptive, and the only objective of administering Plan B is to impede the implantation of a fertilized ovum, which is abortion that is contrary to Catholic religious beliefs. In such cases, Plan B is not “emergency contraception,” and it is misleading to characterize it as such.

But mislead is what the Church’s opponents continue to do–including in an op-ed by Steve Fleischman, M.D., published the same day as Feldman’s piece:

Medical science defines pregnancy as beginning upon successful implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. Therefore, an abortion can only be performed after implantation. Because emergency contraception has no effect once implantation has occurred, it is simply contraception – no more, no less.

Feldman anticipated Fleischman’s sleight of hand and responds:

The issue is not, as some say, when “pregnancy” begins and the different ways in which that term may be defined. The issue is when life begins, and how one’s religious beliefs in that regard must be respected.

And the question of how to respect religious beliefs in regard to when life begins is not about whether life has begun–it’s about whether it is morally permissible to deliberately kill a new human life. The latter question is a religious one, the former–as previously mentioned on this blog–is a scientific one:

And that the formation of an embryo marks the beginning of a new human life is, indeed, a matter of science. Embryology textbooks are clear on the matter. Some examples from a footnote in Ramesh Ponnuru’s The Party of Death:

1) “…the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual” (William J. Larsen, Human Embryology, 2001)

2) “Human development begins at fertilization…[the resulting zygote] marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human, 1998)

3) “fertilization…is a critical landmark…because…a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed…” (O’Rahilly and Mueller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2000)

4) In Gilbert, Developmental Biology (2000), Chapter 7 is entitled: “Fertilization: Beginning a New Organism.” First sentence reads: Fertilization is the process whereby two sex cells (gametes) fuse together to create a new individual…”


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