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Why It Matters

My son as a newborn with meYou never know. A seemingly innocent remark wounds a friend. Callous words from bystanders injure fragile survivors. A stranger is believed over a friend. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words DO hurt, especially when uttered by a friend.

Why does it matter? Why are words so hurtful even when intended as constructive criticism? Why do words injure that call personal judgment into question injure so much? Why aren’t those schoolyard songs meant to build confidence remembered? Question why it matters.

Perhaps hidden personal turmoil is the root. Perhaps too much of an investment is in a project. Perhaps a knee jerk reaction leads to yet another knee jerk reaction. Perhaps a wound festers under a bandage, only getting worse when the bandage is ripped away. Perhaps mindsets have changed. Perhaps pride gets in the way. Perhaps there are multiple areas of attack. You never know. Learn why it matters.

Recently, I’ve been a hot mess of reactions on various levels. I usually have a long fuse that requires flooding with gasoline to light. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve had time to take a deep breath and ponder the reasons for my reactions.

The worst of these reactions dealt with FaceBook ‘friends’ posting articles critical of Angelina Jolie’s choice to prophylactically remove her breasts and possibly ovaries due to a faulty BRCA1 genes. Usually, movie star antics have no effect on me. However, I share not only a faulty BRCA1 gene with Angelina, but also share part her prophylactic surgery choice and beyond. Comments calling her prophylactic measures crazy, unnecessary, immoral, and worse created havoc on me. At the same time, other situations existed that also stressed my already weakened psyche.

Those that know me, know that my journey has been anything but easy. Much thought, research, prayer, and consultation went into every phase of my journey. Four years after my diagnosis, I have lost both breasts, my original implants for reconstruction, my ovaries, my uterus, sensation in several areas of my body, sometimes the use of one arm, my left first rib, and even my job. Some argue that my situation differed from Angelina’s because I was actually diagnosed with cancer prior to taking prophylactic measures. However, our decisions were based on the same facts, careful consideration, and reflection. Therefore, words against her decision are words against mine.

Normally, I’d get fired up by such comments and fire back with well-documented verbose rebuttals. This time, instead, I cried for two days. On the third day, I did further research. By the fourth day, I was finally able to ponder my reaction. Pride was a factor, yet not the most important. Solidarity with another cancer victim was also a factor, but again, not the most important. Righteous indignation plays a role as well, but not the lead. Finally, I identified the cause of my pain: re-opening of freshly healed wounds and dismissing of my suffering and loss.

As I said before, my journey has been fraught with difficulties. I struggled immensely with my decisions. Intense prayer, reflection, counseling, and though prefaced each action I took against my cancer. Yet, even knowing I made the best decision possible caused turmoil in my mind. To this day, almost 4 years after my diagnosis, I suffer with body image. As I step out of the shower I see only the scars. Some survivors call them “tiger stripes” or “battle scars” that show how hard we fought. At times, I do as well. However, at other times, all I can see is what I lost. See why it matters to me.

It is then that God begs me to look at what I saved: my life, my daughter’s life, and my family unit. Then and only then can I find peace in my decisions. Then and only then can I summon up the strength to joke about my “tummy tuck and a boob job” reconstruction. Only then can I smile when I admit that I lost my fertility to reduce my risk of cancer. Money often gets tight since I no longer bring home the bacon, but I can acknowledge the benefit of staying home to homeschool my children. My termination was based on lies, exaggerations, and belittling of my suffering and competence, but I know losing my job was my gain. When I think about all the struggles as God’s plan, I can actually smile and say so. God shows me why it matters.

A hug from my miracle baby

Some say I’m strong and forget that I’m not the one that’s strong – God is; and He’s holding me up. That is often when silent tears course down my face in the dark of very early morning. Even in my weakness, I know God is holding me to His heart, but when friend’s words are like Judas’s kiss, my agony knows no bounds. Yet, worse than the wounds their words cause me is the admission of such to them or anyone. You see, although I realize God knows my inmost thoughts and comforts me, but even with His guidance, I cannot find the words to express my feelings. Often, I don’t even admit my feelings to myself until they’re out of control.

So while it’s your right to use the First Amendment to express your views, be courteous of other people’s journeys — especially if you claim to support them and be their friend. Another school-yard theme, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” comes to mind in these types of situations. Regardless of appearances, everyone suffers from something, and issues of controversy or extreme psychological distress are unpleasantly common. We all progress down different trails at different times. You never know why it matters.

For more information involving morality, medicine, and more:

National Catholic Bioethics Center on BRCA1/2 morality

A Benedictine Priest/MD on tubal ligation and it’s difference from risk-reducing oophorectomy/hysterectomy

CCC reference about moral conditions for surgical sterility or so-called ‘therapeutic mutilation’

A look through my eyes on Erika’s Miracle Journey & in brief here on Catholic Sistas

A co-survivor (and also my mother) about the BRCA1/2 journey and her feelings about critics

Domestic Church Erika Faith Formation Prayer Sacred Scripture Spiritual Growth Testimonials


I have been an avid horseman* for as long as I can remember. After turning her back on me for a moment as a toddler, my mother found me surrounded by half a dozen large horses in the pasture. Later, I got my own pony and eventually  transitioned to full sized horses. If I wasn’t riding, I was just with my horse(s). In inclement weather, I read about horses. Even my punishments growing up were related to horses: grounding from riding my pony or from reading my horse-related books. Even today, as a horseless-horse-enthusiast, I constantly use equine terms and practices in my daily life. My philosophe is that life follows the same rules as horsemanship: transitions are key.

My first pony

Transitions, in horsemanship, are changes in speed. The best of transitions look effortless, elegant, and graceful; horse and rider move seamlessly. To achieve smooth transitions, there are several steps communicated to the horse at exactly the right time. Failing to properly prepare the horse results in choppy, ugly, and bumpy transitions. In life, transitions are the changes we go through as we age and mature. Each transition must occur in order to live, but there are small steps that can ease them and ensure chaos doesn’t reign. Skipping these small steps can lead to disastrous consequences.

What’s around me?

My 4-H show pony

One of the first requirements for smooth transitions is awareness. Horses are very reactionary as flight animals. Every change in the environment, vocalization, weight shift, and mood can induce the horse to react. As a rider, awareness is essential to communicate effectively with the horse. Quietness is a prized trait in a horseman because it allows the horseman to prevent negative reactions from the horse. Great horsemen are said to have quiet hands guiding the horse, quiet legs moving the horse, and quiet minds focusing on the horse and the goal. In life, awareness of God is essential. God is not only in control, but also present and more than willing to bestow blessings if asked. However, distractions are everywhere concealing God’s presence and blessings. That’s why it is essential to actively seek God in everything–even distractions. Sometimes God hides His blessings in sadness and disasters, but He’s always present and waiting for signs of awareness. In quiet contemplation, God reveals Himself to those who seek Him.

What am I doing?

My home-bred riding and driving horse

Another key requirement for smooth transitions is a goal. As sensitive animals, horses are capable of easily detecting or abusing the rider’s intentions or confusion. A clear goal, even a simple “go from point A to point B”, gives the horse confidence and almost instantly yields greater harmony between horse and rider. At times, the horse seems to read the rider’s mind simply because the rider is focused on the horse and their combined goal. One of the most used clichés is “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Often, this cliché seems true as the best-laid human plans result in chaos and confusion. However, the error isn’t the plans; it is the exclusion of God from those plans. God has plans for each and every one of His creations. These plans are written in our hearts and revealed through quiet time with God, prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass, and reading Scripture and Faith-filled writings.

Pause and think…

My pregnant with cancer driving horse

Smooth transitions are also preceded by a ‘half-halt’. Basically, a half-halt is a subtle cue from the rider for a minuscule pause from the horse. While it isn’t a specific cue for change, it distinctly alerts the horse to an upcoming change. Large transitions, like from a halt to a gallop or vice versa, may require several half-halts as preparation. They must be appropriately timed for the desired effect. Poor timing diminishes the effectiveness and the transition suffers. In life, the equivalent of half-halts are moments of prayer. Like a half-halt, prayer doesn’t have to be obvious or time consuming to be effective. Prayer prior to large changes in life, like marriage, buying a home, changing careers, etc, is infinitely more effective than prayerful supplication after these changes have taken place. A simple, “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” can suffice as long as there is an opening or slight pause to allow God to answer.


Let’s do this…

My borrowed driving horse and his friend

Following the half-halt is the actual cue for transition. Obviously, the cue is very important to the transition; without it, the transition wouldn’t exist. Since horseback riding is a dynamic relationship between horse and rider, change is constant and predictable. Like the half-halt, the cue must be timed very precisely, more precisely than the half-halt. In addition to precise timing, the cue must be proportionate to effectively communicate the command. A large transition or disobedience requires a strong cue; while a weak cue may not produce a transition at all. Similarly, life is a dynamic relationship with God, with God supplying the cues. Many times God’s cues are very subtle, while other times they’re like a 2-by-4. Subtle cues from God are best heard in the stillness after a half-halt of prayer. During trying times, God sometimes has to use a 2-by-4 to combat the inattention, disobedience, and lack of time given to Him. However, He always gives cues to those who ask Him for guidance.

Whew, that’s finished…

Sharing the love with my daughter

Once the transition occurs, the final step is praise. Depending on the rider’s effectiveness, praise can be subtle, almost undetectable to all but the horse or effusive. Since horseback riding is dynamic and training occurs every time the rider is with the horse, sometimes excellent preparation results in mediocre or even dismal transitions. An honest attempt, even without spectacular results should always be rewarded. God also deserves praise even through transitions that seem bad. After all, without God no transitions would even be possible. As the Author of our lives, God knows the plan, and provides ample guidance. For this, He deserves praise and gratitude. He will ultimately reward His Faithful with Heaven.



Life with horses has helped me live a better life with God. My transitions haven’t always been as smooth as I’d like, usually because what I want and what God wants differ. When I’ve followed the steps to graceful transitions, God has blessed me abundantly. I’ve given God free reign. You should too!
*I use the term horseman because I don’t need to feminize the term to preserve my femininity. I also use the term horseman synonymously with rider because that is the most common form of horsemanship. I based my description of transitions on the discipline of dressage (French for training) and is often the foundation of other disciplines.

Apologetics Conversion Discipleship Doctrine Domestic Church Ecumenism Erika Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mass Prayer Sacred Scripture Spiritual Growth Vocations

Mass Confusion: Interference

Earlier today I was driving down the road listening to my local Catholic station. Every so often a popular rock station would bleed in and cover the beautiful sounds of a Mass with Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Talk about Mass confusion***! I couldn’t seem to help myself, even as I listened to him intone the words of Consecration, from singing along with the popular rock songs. As I caught myself doing so, time and time again, I was reminded that this is somewhat “normal” for me and many other Catholics, Christians, and/or any faithful throughout our faith-lives to be so easily distracted by secular things.

On a basic level, this distraction has roots in Satan. The more concentrated we become on God, the more frustrated Satan is. So, in an effort to separate us from God, Satan throws little distractions at us. Physically, my Mass confusion was caused by two local radio stations sharing the same frequency; however, spiritually, each time I sang the words to a popular rock song instead of staying focused on the Mass, Satan was winning. Of course, this makes me wonder if perhaps God also uses the physical effects of a Catholic station sharing the frequency with a popular rock station to gain followers from the crowd of rockers.

Even through my Mass confusion I began to wonder about other things that distract us from the beauty of Mass and therefore from God: liturgical abuses**. Recently, my mother and I were discussing various experiences we’ve had on vacations with local Masses. She recounted one particular Mass, where the Eucharist was basically reduced to ‘chips and dip’, from which my whole family emerged silent and disturbed.If we err by thinking we are the center of the Liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of Faith ~ Cardinal Raymond Burke We were hours from our home with three children in the car, yet none of us spoke on the way home. I remembered another experience where we spent the entire Mass trying to find anything familiar besides some of the words – the Tabernacle was nowhere to be seen, the Crucifix was MIA, rubric defined words of Consecration were changed, and the layout of the church itself was in the round. We had other experiences with fewer abuses as well. Locally, we have a diverse celebration of Mass as well, but no where near the levels experienced outside our home area. Such Mass confusion dilutes the Word of God, Jesus, to our image of Him instead of transforming us into the Image of Him.

Some seem to thrive on Mass confusion in an effort to be more tolerant, entertaining, diverse, etc. Often, those faithful to the rubrics and to both ‘t’ and ‘T’ traditions are accused of being “rubric-Nazis”, “holier-than-thou”, “intolerant”, “behind the times”, and “divisive”. Yet Scripture tells us to stay faithful to the traditions given to us by Jesus and the Apostles as well as to avoid leading others astray. God is the ultimate in constancy whereas Satan is ever changing to tempt us away from God. Yes, we are called to be welcoming and universal, but we don’t do that by abandoning 2000 years of traditions and making Mass less about God and more about ourselves. Just as I experienced Mass confusion with my radio stations blending with one another, we all experience Mass confusion when we try to bend Mass to secular understanding.

Have veneration and respect for the holy Liturgy of the church and for its ceremonies. Observe them faithfully. Don't you see that, for us poor men, even what is greatest and most noble must enter through the senses? ~ St Josemaria EscrivaThere are many questions in my mind — that I’m unsure how answer. Have any of these changes to the Mass increased vocations, faithfulness, tolerance, holiness, etc?  When we knowingly participate in a less-than-stellar Mass (according to rubrics & Tradition) do we still gain the graces given to us through Mass? By knowingly (for convenience-sake*) choosing a Mass where there is less adherence to the rubrics and Tradition, am I putting my soul at stake or am I just exposing myself to disdain (since I veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament) and Mass confusion? Do I mitigate whatever harm going to a confused Mass because I chose to do so based on getting my reluctant Catholic husband to Mass? Or do I add to the harm (to my soul and perhaps his) by exposing him to Mass confusion?

* Obviously, when we only have one option available for Mass, whether on vacation or due to lack of churches, we are filled with all the graces available from Mass. However, in my area, we have many available options for Mass. I live 20 miles outside of the nearest ‘big’ town, yet there are 3 Catholic churches with different pastors within 2 miles of my home. If I were to drive all the way to town I’d add at least another dozen Catholic churches to the list of available options.

** More information on common liturgical abuses:

*** As I was writing this post I was completely unaware of a book published with this same title about liturgical abuses.

Abortion Apologetics Catechism Current Events Doctrine Erika Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers NFP and contraceptives Prayer Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Spiritual Growth Testimonials

Emergency Contraception Revisited

Several questions in the comment box and further research has prompted me to revisit my post, Emergency Contraception: Science and Morals. Although my conclusions remain unwaveringly against EC (emergency contraception), a slightly more in-depth explanation seems necessary. In an effort to remain concise, yet still delve a little deeper, I’m going to address the issues in the format of Q and A.

What did the German bishops actually say?

I downloaded a .pdf file of the German Bishops’ statement and consequently translated it using Google Translate. I was immediately struck by the fact that the statement was not primarily about EC. Instead, the statement included 13 topics, EC was the 8th topic in the list and only garnered two paragraphs. That means a mountain has been made of a mole-hill. In addition, thorough researching has revealed that the statement the bishops made is, in reality, not new, but a re-affirmation of the Universal Church’s stance. The meat of the matter is EC may be used “insofar as it has a contraceptive and not an abortifacient effect. Medical and pharmaceutical methods that cause the death of an embryo may will not continue to be applied.” The German bishops did not specify the conditions beyond that. Therefore, there isn’t much for me to analyze there.

What about the National Catholic Bioethics Center?

In the comments, I was referred to an article of the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D from November 2008. Four considerations are listed there for licit use of EC:

  1. The woman is not already pregnant from prior, freely-chosen sexual activity.
  2. The woman has been sexually assaulted.
  3. The woman has not yet ovulated.
  4. The morning-after pill can reasonably be expected to prevent her from ovulating.
Is the victim pregnant?

In order to ascertain #1, a pregnancy test and in-depth history from the woman should suffice. Seems simple enough, right? However, as one of my commenter’s asked, what if she’s only days pregnant at the time of the rape and subsequent hospital arrival? This, as well as item #3, are my primary concerns with any EC use, ever. It is here that I lament that all women are not taught to track their own cycles. Ignorance of the female body and cycle is to blame for many an exploitation of women through “convenience” medications such as birth control and EC. As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a test that detects fertilization, not implantation as most pregnancy tests do. However, it is rarely, if ever used. Perhaps in cases of rape, its use would be beneficial.

Is the victim pre-ovulatory, ovulating, or post-ovulatory?

If the woman is not currently pregnant based testing and history, determining her present ovulatory state is absolutely vital for licit use of EC. Therein lies the rub. Determining her present ovulatory state is far from simple. Even women who religiously (pardon the pun) chart their ovulation cycles, make mistakes. Mistaken identification of ovulation or lack thereof is even possible by women who use ovulation predictor kits for the recommended week. If the tests used as per directions can be wrong, wouldn’t the same be true, only with a far greater likelihood, of a single test for that same chemical? Additionally, studies have shown that stress can delay ovulation. So again, is delaying ovulation with a drug with an uncertain mechanism  really be necessary?

Will EC act only to prevent ovulation?

This leads to requirement #4 in Fr. Tad’s article. If items #1 and #3 cannot be reliably ascertained, can anyone reasonably expect EC to only prevent ovulation and not interfere with the embryo that has yet to implant? Unequivocally NO! Apparently, the main drug in the EC called Plan B is basically a twin-sister-drug to RU-486. That in and of itself, should render any other argument null and void. In addition, even the prescribers information enclosed with EC and Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Guttenmacher Institute doesn’t guarantee that the use of the drug will only prevent ovulation or prevent conception. How can anyone claim to know more than the creators of the drug or proponents of all things abortive and contraceptive? However, I’ve left out requirement #2, believe it or not, the most contentious of all the requirements in my experience.

Was it rape?

As a forensic biologist for almost 10 years, I dealt with hundreds of rape cases. It may be impolitic to say, but some of those cases were not truly rapes. Before anyone hastily decides I have no sympathy or respect for rape victims, let me explain. In rape investigations, the police interrogate suspects and ask the victim for her recollections. In addition, rape victims that undergo a sexual assault examination in a hospital are also asked to specifically recount the incident. Sometimes in the midst of recounting the event, the victim concedes that rape did not occur, for various reasons. However, this often happens long after a dose of EC would be given to the victim. Also, many rape victims don’t report to the hospital for their examination or even to the police to file charges until after the 72 hour window of effective use for EC. Some victims have consensual intercourse with their partner prior to the rape or reporting the rape, further muddying the waters. In other words, a rape victim who presents to the hospital may or may not truly be a rape victim. Additionally, if Catholic hospitals allow the use of EC for rape victims, but not other women, more women may report to the hospital as “rape victims” just to get EC. This will inevitably and negatively effect the processing of true rape cases at hospital, police, and forensic levels.

Is EC necessary or beneficial?

In addition, many victims are already on some form of contraception that should already eliminate ovulation. Many women will also inevitably be in a non-fertile phase of their cycle. There are statistics available for conception both in consensual intercourse and forced intercourse. The numbers are overwhelming low even without altering the woman’s reproductive state, especially since stress (and rape is indeed a stressor) can delay ovulation by itself. Since this is the case, would EC even be necessary? No. Additionally, the higher dose of estrogens or progesterones may further damage the woman and increase her risk of various cancers and other adverse events associated with extra estrogens and progesterones.

What about… [insert hypothetical condition] of the mother?

Some hypothetical quandaries were presented to me in the comments section. I addressed them as best I could, but I’ll re-address them here and hopefully clarify. One hypothetical situation I already discussed was if a woman was merely days pregnant, unaware of the pregnancy, and the pregnancy was undetectable via normal methods. Another hypothetical situation was of women with a known medical condition that contraindicates pregnancy, whether by the use of birth-defect causing medications or by risking the woman’s health/life with a pregnancy.Yet another example was a handicapped woman. The list of hypotheticals could go on and on ad infinitim. Based on Church doctrine, the hypothetical situation doesn’t change the ultimate answer. Life is life regardless of stage, method of conception, or medical condition of either mother or child. Under no circumstances are abortifacient means to be used according to the Catholic Church.

In this same vein, one of the comments correlated EC in these instances to medications given to women who may not know they’re pregnant in order to detect, fight, or cure their disease. This, to me, is comparing apples to oranges. EC’s primary goal is to “prevent” pregnancy based on the new definition of pregnancy starting at implantation not fertilization. Instead of detecting, fighting, or curing any disease, EC is only meant to stop pregnancy. However, if a woman is diagnosed with a disease that requires a “risky” test, medication, or therapy, any effect on her unborn child is purely unintentional. Now, if that same woman is given EC (or something with the same goal) with the test, medication, or therapy, that combination is not licit. Yet, if the woman needs a particular test, medication, or therapy she has the choice to refuse it or allow it. This leads us to the next question.

What about Double Effect?

By it’s very nature, EC goes against the first premise of the principle of double effect; the action must be morally good or morally neutral. There is a huge difference between treating or testing a newly pregnant woman with a drug or test that may harm her unborn child and giving a woman a drug that is meant to harm her unborn child as it’s only purpose. I’ve been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt (sweatshirt, scars, ribbons, and prayers to go along with it). Some of the Sistas and our friends have also BTDT. At 20 weeks pregnant, I was given chemotherapy without harm to my unborn daughter. Theoretically, the chemotherapy could have harmed her (although MD Anderson had been giving pregnant women chemotherapy with no adverse effects for 20 years), but since the chemotherapy was intended to fight my cancer, had my pregnancy been disturbed, the principle of double effect would have still allowed my treatment. However, since EC’s only use is to “prevent” pregnancy not to treat the mother’s condition (whatever it may be beyond pregnancy), double effect does not come into play. Even in cases of tubal pregnancy, the only morally licit treatment is to remove the entire tube, not just the embryo. Nothing justifies knowingly doing something with the sole purpose of harming an unborn child, regardless of it’s stage or method of conception.

What about the Bishops being higher in the hierarchy than you, a lay-person?

While it is definitely true that I am simply an apologist by hobby, not a moral theologian, the Bishops do not have the authority to issue any statement contrary to the whole Church’s doctrine. Bishops are not at the top of the hierarchy. Actually, even the Pope doesn’t issue statements contrary to doctrine. Additionally, bishops from Spain vocally disagree with the German bishops and therefore, agree with me. The Church has long held the view that killing an embryo is the same as killing a newborn (or any other stage of life human) no matter what the means of conception or “necessity” accepted by the world. As Catholics we may buck the secular system (indeed we are encouraged to do so; “Be in the world, but not of the world.”) but we may not buck the Church’s doctrinal system if we want to be in full communion with the Church. So, while I must obey my bishop in matters relating to the diocese, if his orders are in contradiction to the Holy See, I am justified and obligated to follow the Holy See, not my local bishop.

In conclusion, while I must admit that there are some theologians, Catholic doctors, and others who may disagree with me, I can’t understand their position or advocate for the use of any contraceptive/possible abortifacient for the sole purpose of “preventing pregnancy”. Anything with the possible intention of harming a life, regardless of the reasons, is contrary to what our Church teaches. Some may even accuse me of trying to be “more Catholic than the Pope”, but as a trained Molecular Biologist with research hours in embryology and a former forensic biologist for almost 10 years, I realize that many people think medicine/science is much more of a guarantee than it is in reality. Other theologians, doctors, and bloggers agree with my stance as well. Pray, let us stand firm on our Faith and limit not our compassion to those we can see with our eyes. Let us live the Hippocratic Oath as doctor’s, nurses, pharmacists, mid-wives, lay-people,and “first do no harm“.

I have lately had Pope Leo XIII’s St. Michael the Archangel prayer in my mind, so let us pray…


Abortion Apologetics Current Events Doctrine Erika NFP and contraceptives Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Emergency Contraception: Science and Morals

Recently the news contained two slightly misleading headlines: “German bishops say morning-after pill is ok in rape cases,” and “Top Vatican official calls German bishop’s approval of morning after pill ‘exemplary’”. On the surface both of these headlines give the appearance of the Church, specifically the German bishops and even the Pontifical Academy for Life, reversing a historic ban on contraception and abortifacients. In all likelihood, the Church will be taken to task over this seeming reversal without a closer inspection. However, as a scientist (molecular biology degree and 9 years as a Forensic Biologist) as well as an apologetics hobbyist, I decided to delve a little deeper into both the science and the morals of emergency contraception (EC).

First, the science… I first looked at the article from Contraception that was referenced in both articles in contention. After reading the entire article, the take-home message appeared to be that a Copper IUD is the most effective EC because it disrupts fertilization as well as implantation, but the two hormonal types of EC were ineffective because their action was to disrupt fertilization not implantation. Another article continues the assertion that one of the most common EC types (Levonorgestrel/Plan B) has no effect on implantation. However, as Catholics (as did most people before IVF and recent political mumbo-jumbo), we believe that life begins at conception not implantation. Further review of journal articles yielded this one that clearly states that only people who believe “implantation or later events to be the beginning of pregnancy” consider this method to be non-abortive. Another article, questions the validity of the data used to verify whether Plan B acts pre- or post-implantation without even referencing (in the abstract) whether these studies even consider post-conception and pre-implantation actions.

Most/many studies discount the five to twelve days between fertilization to implantation. It is not a stretch to consider these studies flawed for neglecting this time period; therefore, it is impossible to separate the contraceptive from the abortive properties of Plan B (and other ECs) without further research. Even one of their own, James Trussell, admits the abortive effect must be mentioned to women when giving Plan B. Further, Dr. Trussell admits that for Plan B (or any EC) to be effective, it must have an effect after fertilization. At this point, there is no accurate widely available test for fertilization, although a fertilization chemical has been known since 1979. Common tests used to detect pregnancy are detecting implantation (hCG) hormones, again discounting the five to twelve days between fertilization and implantation.

Now for the morals… In 1968, 2000, 2008, and well, basically forever the Church’s official stance has been against both contraception and abortion. Every life that begins is God’s gift to the bearer. While in cases of rape and incest, it is common to think of the new life as a “punishment”; in reality, God has created something wonderful out of a horrible crime. It is widely believed that punishing a child for the sins of the father is wrong. Therefore, it is no stretch to think that terminating a pre-born child for the sin of the father is wrong as well.

The German bishops, in their ill-conceived notion of “kindness” for a woman impregnated by an attacker, draw a line that neither science nor morality can draw. Studies have not shown that emergency contraceptives only act prior to fertilization. Nor are there widely available reliable tests to determine fertilization, only implantation. Moral law is the same for all life, whether the result of rape, incest, fornication, marital love, marital infidelity, IVF, or any other mechanism. A new life begins when egg and sperm meet (fertilization). Intentionally terminating that life is against the moral code and natural law. When clarification of this media circus is made, I’m sure it will be buried under new Catholic controversy if it is even presented at all. Until then, I am confident that Christ’s Church on Earth remains the most steadfast protector of life from its very conception.


ADDENDUM: In researching this story I could have added this extra explanation:

A comment on Facebook mentioned that since 1999(?), the bishops’ statement has been that if ovulation and fertilization can be proven to have not occurred, emergency contraception is OK. This information is true-EXCEPT-it is almost impossible for medical science to prove without a doubt that no ovulation or fertilization has occurred or is likely to occur during the emergency contraceptives life span in the body. They can test for ovulation-yes-but since sperm cells can live up to a week in the female reproductive system, proving no ovulation at the time the drug is administered does NOT necessarily mean ovulation will not happen within that week. If ovulation occurs within the week life-span of the sperm cells, fertilization can occur. At this time, there is no test for fertilization that is widely-available or widely-used. The current pregnancy tests actually test for implantation. Implantation happens between 5-12 days AFTER fertilization/conception/creation of new life. One of the only ways, in my opinion and research, to have the best chance of knowing whether ovulation and/or fertilization is possible is if a woman uses NFP to chart her cycles. However, even though NFP has a thoroughly proven track record, occasionally “unplanned” conceptions happen even to experienced practitioners.

abortion and contraception are always immoral according to the Catholic Church.