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Emergency Contraception for Women Who Have Been Raped: Must Catholics Test for Ovulation, or Is Testing for Pregnancy Morally Sufficient?
Abstract

On the grounds that rape is an act of violence, not a natural act of intercourse, Roman Catholic teaching traditionally has permitted women who have been raped to take steps to prevent pregnancy, while consistently prohibiting abortion even in the case of rape. Recent scientific evidence that emergency contraception (EC) works primarily by preventing ovulation, not by preventing implantation or by aborting implanted embryos, has led Church authorities to permit the use of EC drugs in the setting of rape. Doubts about whether an abortifacient effect of EC drugs has been completely disproven have led to controversy within the Church about whether it is sufficient to determine that a woman is not pregnant before using EC drugs or whether one must establish that she has not recently ovulated. This article presents clinical, epidemiological, and ethical arguments why testing for pregnancy should be morally sufficient for a faith community that is strongly opposed to abortion.



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