On Human Identity & Global Governance
It is often claimed that, in the case of rape, “post-coital contraception would be an ideal method of preventing a pregnancy which is not only unwanted, but will be experienced as the material and organic prolongation of the evil of rape, for the woman who has been the victim of the attack and those close to her, if a foetus develops as a result of that attack”. This is why there are many who approve of the use of post-coital contraception when the person in question is a rape victim.
If employed within 48 hours following a rape, goes the argument, and when it proves successful in preventing a possible pregnancy, post-coital contraception “offers a considerable objective and material benefit to the patient, the attending doctor and society as a whole: this ‘contraception’ in effect eliminates the problem of the development of a pregnancy under such conditions, with the implied obligation of either acceding to a request for abortion from the victim or finding a solution for the child, once born, if the victim has agreed to keep it”.
“A rape victim is certainly free to take the decision she wants and no-one can force her to keep the baby resulting from the rape, if baby there is. Nevertheless, no-one should exert a psychological pressure on the victim to make her use emergency contraception or have an abortion either”.
“One may wonder whether the doctor in charge and the rape victim, in the painful ‘borderline’ case of rape, should establish a hierarchy of goods (or evils) so as to choose ‘the lesser evil’. For instance, they could weigh on the one hand the ‘morning-after pill’ (knowing it can fail and bearing in mind that IUDs are more efficient but contraindicated in case of pregnancy) that can be abortive but that can also be simply contraceptive, depending on the point in the cycle it intervenes at, against, on the other hand, ‘armed surveillance’, proposing abortion if a pregnancy is confirmed. The ‘safest’ choice would indeed be an immediate intake of the ‘morning-after pill’ followed by an abortion should the pill fail”.
“Even in the painful and ‘borderline’ case of rape, the possibility of choice does not truly exist in moral terms because human life has a fundamental value, which surpasses any other value and any baby who develops as a consequence of rape is innocent. To use emergency contraception under these circumstances is to seek to eliminate this possible child at the start of his or her life, adding a further evil to the evil of rape already perpetrated. A rape victim has to take a decision, as soon as possible, concerning the possible use of post-coital contraception. Persons who have a responsibility for welcoming, comforting, monitoring and helping victims of sexual violence and spiritual pastors who find themselves in contact with such victims (for example in refugee camps), cannot make that decision in their stead. But they must help the victim make that decision in a way that will be as mature and responsible as possible. They must not conceal the truth about the value of the child from the conscience of the person they are assisting and neither must they minimize or silence the potentially abortive effect of the morning after pill. It is however always necessary to present the truth, the moral duty (to keep the child where there is a pregnancy) in conjunction with an offer of concrete help and support, irrespective of the decision taken by the victim”.