Ethical consequence

Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner of Cologne has decided that in the future the "morning-after pill" will be allowed if this medication does not have an abortifacient effect and if it can be used to prevent "criminal fertilization.

our site documents the wording of the statement:

"Given the occasion, I have consulted with experts on the question of prescribing the so-called "morning-after pill". It became clear that this refers to different preparations with different principles of action, whose effects and side effects are becoming increasingly clear in the scientific discussion. This gives rise to ethical consequences.

If, after a rape, a drug whose active principle is the prevention of conception is used with the intention of preventing fertilization, then this is justifiable in my view.

If a drug whose active principle is nidation inhibition is used with the intention of preventing the implantation of the already fertilized egg, this is still not justifiable because it actively deprives the fertilized egg, which is entitled to the protection of human dignity, of the basis of life. The fact that fertilized oocytes are shed naturally without human intervention does not entitle a human being to actively imitate this natural process. For the termination of a human life by nature is called a natural event. Its deliberate imitation is called killing.

Doctors in Catholic institutions are called upon to address the plight of women who have been raped without reservation and, in doing so, to orient their medical actions to the above-mentioned principles, taking into account the latest state of medical science. Furthermore, there is nothing to be said against their providing information in this case also about methods that are not justifiable according to the Catholic view, and about their accessibility, if in doing so, without exerting any prere, they also explain the Catholic position with arguments in an appropriate manner. In any case, however, help for raped women in Catholic institutions must of course go far beyond the discussion of such ies.

Cologne, 31. January 2013

Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne"

Explanation of the press office of the Archdiocese of Cologne

PEK (130131) – The statement by the Archbishop of Cologne takes into account recent findings regarding the so-called "morning-after pill.". It does not concern the abortion pill mifepristone (RU 486, "Mifegyne"), which is still to be rejected according to Catholic catching up.

Until now, it was often amed that the nidation-inhibiting effect was the central active principle of the preparations known as the "morning-after pill". (Nidation inhibition means that an already fertilized egg cell cannot implant itself in the uterus).) This is obviously no longer the state of science. However, the church must always take scientific findings into account in its assessments. It is part of the peculiarity of such findings that they are not infrequently controversial. The church can only declare moral principles on the matter. The individual doctor in a Catholic institution must then conscientiously make a decision on the basis of these principles and thus arrive at a responsible decision.

When making a decision, the doctor must weigh up on the basis of his or her own scientific assessment the extent to which a preparation has a nidation-inhibiting effect. On the other hand, as is well known, very many preparations and behaviors have side effects that can harm or, in extreme cases, even kill incipient human life. Such effects should of course be minimized. It can never be completely ruled out. According to the teachings of Pope Pius XII. For example, painkillers are permitted for a terminally ill patient if they are used with the intention of relieving pain, but may have the side effect of shortening life.

The Instruction "Dignitatis personae" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 8. September 2008 mentions among the "interceptives" "the so-called 'morning-after pill'", but then refers exclusively to the nidation-inhibiting intention when it cautiously formulates: "It must be noted, however, that in those who wish to prevent the implantation of a possibly conceived embryo and therefore desire or prescribe such means, there is generally intentionality to abortion."The principles of this declaration thus remain valid, but apparently a differentiation must be made in the case of the "morning-after pill".

It should be emphasized that the statement of the Archbishop of Cologne refers to the situation of a rape and not to the situation in a sacramental marriage, which the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" deals with. Accordingly, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had already permitted the use of anticonceptives by religious sisters in a region of the world where they had to fear rape. The ie of rape is not about the wholeness of a loving act, but about the prevention of a criminal impregnation.

First reactions positive

North Rhine-Westphalia's Health Minister Barbara Steffens (Greens) welcomed the archbishop's "clarifying words". Steffens called Meisner's statement an "important signal" to ensure care for women in need in Catholic hospitals. With this, the cardinal put an end to uncertainties that had arisen in recent weeks in his archdiocese. In all hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia with a gynecological department, victims of sexual violence must have the certainty of being able to decide for themselves whether to take a "morning-after pill".

The Catholic Hospital Association, the counseling organization Donum Vitae in NRW, which is supported by Catholic lay people, and the Diocesan Working Group of Catholic Hospitals in the Archdiocese of Cologne also welcomed Meisner's statement. This would "clear up the misunderstandings and misconceptions that have arisen", according to the working group. In the Cologne case, the doctors on duty had refused the examination because they feared consequences under labor law if they advised about a possible pregnancy and its termination as required by law, as well as prescribe the "morning-after pill".

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