The original submission....
On November 4th, the Courier Times carried an opinion piece by Jackson Young, who is the chairperson of NOVA's Public Affairs Committee. Mr. Young's position is that so-called "Emergency Contraception" should be made available in hospital emergency rooms, without conscience clause exceptions for facilities or medical professionals. I respectfully request that Mr. Young provide clarrification and/or corrections on several of his points.
1.) In 1996, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina estimated the rate of pregnancy from rape to be as high as 5.0%. Factors such as the sexual dysfunction of rapists, however, lead to actual rates which are much, much lower. As reported by Eugene Diamond, MD (2004), for example, "retrospective studies done by law enforcement agencies in Erie County, New York, and Cuyhoga County, Ohio reported not a single pregnancy following rape in prosecutions covering thirty years in New York and ten years in Ohio."
Applying South Carolina's high rate to 2006's 92,455 forcible rapes of women would lead to an estimate of 4623 pregnancies resulting from forcible rape. Yet, according to Mr. Young, "Every year in the United States, at least 25,000 victims of rape and sexual assault are forced to relive their trauma after becoming pregnant with their rapist's child." Mr. Young's numbers would seem to suggest that 26% of forcible rapes result in pregnancy.
2.) According to Mr. Young, so-called emergency contraception "contains exactly the same drugs that work in exactly the same way as regular birth control pills. It is a safe and effective method of contraception....No destruction of an embryo occurs because it has not yet been formed." While Mr. Young may be making this statement in an attempt to provide relief to victims, it is far from complete and accurate. Withholding information is neither respectful of victims nor truly compassionate; it is paternalistic, at best.
On 10/14/07, the Courier Times' Liz Fisher's explained how so-called "emergency contraception" can indeed act as an abortifacient (see "Bill Would Standardize Treatment of Rape Victims"). When medication prevents the implantation of an embryo in the uterus, it is abortifacient - not contraceptive. (For those interested, a brief YouTube video explains how regular oral "contraceptive" pills can act in an abortifacient manner.).
3.) According to Mr. Young, "Access to EC for victims of rape is supported by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in Directive 36 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services." It is patently inaccurate and absolutely incorrect that Directive 36 gives unequivocal support to the use of so-called "emergency contraception." One needs simply to read that brief directive to see that it clearly and unequivocally specifies that treatment must not be abortifacient. While Directive 36 calls for absolutely compassionate care, it necessitates the use of protocols to ensure that emergency contraception is not used in an abortifacient manner. At this point in time, however, some physicians indicate that certainty is impossible.
- Abortifacient <www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiCU46_lWeE>.
Diamond, E. Post Rape Medications. in (K. McMahon, ed) Moral Issues in Catholic Health Care, 1996
- Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2007 <www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/data/table_01.html>.
- Growth, A and Burgess, A. Sexual Dysfunction During Rape. New England Journal of Medicine, 1977.
- Holmes MM, Resnick HS, Kilpatrick DG, and Best CL. Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1996, 175(2):320-4.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fourth Edition, 2001 <www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml>.