Point man for Connecticut bishops on Plan B 'EC' totally
confused on issue
Note by the webmaster:
On 2007-OCT-02, John-Henry Westen of LifeSiteNews.com reported from Hartford,
CT about a decision by the Connecticut Catholic Bishops conference (CCC).
The CCC concluded that emergency contraceptives (a.k.a. EC, Plan B, &
"morning-after" pill) could be administered to rape victims in their hospitals.
The Roman Catholic hospitals in Connecticut are between a rock and a hard
place. They are in danger of being forced to close down unless they offer EC to
female rape victims. But if they do administer EC then they would be performing
what the church considers to be an evil act in order to achieve a good end
result -- keeping the hospitals open and thereby saving lives. Catholic moral
teaching does not allow an evil act to be performed even if it results in major
The following was copied from the LifeSiteNews web site, and is used with
"Point Man for Connecticut Bishops on Plan B 'Emergency Contraception'
Totally Confused on Issue" by John-Henry Westen:
Barry Feldman is general counsel for St. Francis Hospital the lead spokesman
for the Connecticut Catholic Bishops conference regarding their newly announced
permission to administer the morning after pill Plan B to rape victims in
Catholic hospitals in the state.
In seeking comment on the decision LifeSiteNews.com spoke with the pro-life
office of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) but was directed
to the executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference (CCC).
Deacon David Reynold, acting director of the CCC referred LifeSiteNews.com to
Barry Feldman as their spokesman on the issue. Mr. Feldman is the Senior Vice
Presidents and General Counsel for Hartford's St. Francis Hospital and
Medical Center. Indeed in every story in the mainstream press on the
decision by the CCC to allow for Plan B in Catholic hospitals, Feldman is the
In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com Feldman displayed a fundamental error in
thinking around Plan B. He suggested that the "morning after pill" which was
condemned by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2000 was entirely different from
"emergency contraception" such as Plan B which was now being permitted in
Catholic hospitals for rape victims after the administration of a pregnancy
Asked if he was familiar with the Vatican document issued in the year 2000 on
the Morning After Pill, Feldman responded, "Yes I am."
That document available from the Vatican website ... refers to the morning after
"a well-known chemical product (of the hormonal type) which has
frequently - even in the past week - been presented by many in the field and
by the mass media as a mere contraceptive or, more precisely, as an
'emergency contraceptive', which can be used within a short time after a
presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse."
The Pontifical Academy for Life voiced a clear prohibition on the use
of the morning after pill. The document said:
"Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness
of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and
taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or
not, directly co-operate with this procedure are also morally responsible
Asked how the CCC found itself at odds with the Vatican document, Feldman
"What we're talking about now is emergency contraception which is
different from the morning after pill which is referred to in that Vatican
document. What the Vatican document was expressing an opinion on and an
objection to was medication or a pill, the morning after pill, that has the
direct intended effect of causing an abortion."
"Emergency contraception is different, its not an abortion pill, its
intended to prevent pregnancy and not constitute an abortion. So what we're
talking about now really is just a totally different subject and a totally
different medication than what was addressed in the Vatican document. The
Vatican has not issued any kind of teaching with respect to emergency
When LifeSiteNews.com read from the Pontifical Academy document pointing out
that it was in fact the same subject, morning after pills, even given the same
chemical makeup of the drugs as Plan B, Feldman persisted. He said:
"Well with all due respect, it really isn't. This has been researched
very, very carefully and it's two different medications completely. The
morning after pill is an abortion pill. Plan B is an emergency contraception
pill. And although there may be some likenesses in regard to the [sic] some
of the ingredients within the pills, they are really two totally separate
mechanisms, totally separate medications."
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with Dr. John Shea, a medical doctor who has
researched and written extensively on bioethical issues. Dr. Shea, a member of
the Canadian Bioethics Institute confirmed that Plan B, the drug which
the CCC has agreed to allow into Catholic hospitals is indeed a morning after
pill, and was specifically addressed in the Vatican document where it spoke of a
pill containing "only progestogens".
Richard Doerflinger, Deputy Director for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life
Activities, although he would not specifically address the CCC situation,
did confirm that the Pontifical Academy's 2000 document did address Plan B.
LifeSiteNews.com asked Feldman if he was aware of the opposition of the Catholic
Medical Association - the largest professional association of Catholic
physicians - to the use of 'emergency contraception' for rape victims. "We are
aware of that, their position, yes."
Asked, "Whose medical advice, if not the advice of Catholic doctors did you
take?," Feldman said he could not divulge the names of those the Bishops
consulted on the matter. He called them "confidential" consultations.
When pressed for a body of experts who backed the Bishops' stand, Feldman
offered the Catholic Health Association and other ethicists connected
with Catholic hospital associations.
Such ethicists are however under intense pressure on the situation since, as
ethicists connected directly with Catholic hospitals, they are faced with
complying with state pressure to allow the morning after pill for rape victims
or face closure of the hospitals. 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Statement on the so-called 'morning-after pill'," Pontifical
Academy for Life, 2000-OCT-31, at:
John-Henry Westen, "Point Man for Connecticut Bishops on
Plan B 'Emergency Contraception' Totally Confused on Issue," LifeSiteNews,
Copyright © 2007 by
LifeSiteNews.com, a production of Interim Publishing. Permission to republish
granted but acknowledgement of source (use LifeSiteNews.com) is required.
Original posting: 2007-OCT-14
Latest update: 2007-OCT-14
Author: John-Henry Westen