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Fri Feb 22, 2013, 08:05 AM

Germany: Morning-After Pill Allowed for the Victims of Rape, Bishops Say

In a softening of their hard-line stance toward the use of contraception, Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops said Thursday that hospitals run by the church could provide women who had been raped with versions of the morning-after pill that prevent fertilization. The Catholic Church has faced strong criticism after a rape victim was recently turned away by two hospitals it runs in Cologne, because staff members were concerned about having to counsel the woman about emergency contraception.

In a statement issued Thursday, the bishops said they had not been aware that various forms of emergency contraception were available, and after consulting with medical experts and with the Vatican, agreed that administering drugs that in no way aborted a fertilized egg was justified in cases of rape. The bishops said the new policy would be discussed with hospitals run by the church to ensure that “women who have been the victims of rape are provided human, medical, psychological and pastoral support,” which could include “administration of the morning-after pill.”


After discussing the matter during a meeting of their episcopal conference, the German bishops concluded that the scientific evidence shows the “morning-after pill” does not cause abortions. The pill is already dispensed at some Catholic hospitals in the US, where authorities have reached the same conclusion.


This does nothing to change the Church's position on abortion, but it does seem to represent a crack in its opposition to the use of contraceptives in all cases.

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