The National Catholic Bioethics Center has issued a statement on the Connecticut Bishop’s decision to allow Plan B without an ovulation test. This is a very informative statement that covers both the medical and ethical dimensions of this.
The role of bishops.
Bishops do not write medical protocols; health care professionals and medical institutions do that. If a protocol concerns a procedure that has ethical implications, it will be submitted to a bishop for his ethical judgment reached in consultation with medical and ethical experts. If the bishop is convinced the procedure will not violate the moral law, he will not stand in the way of its being implemented. He will basically grant what is called a �nihil obstat� which basically means there are no moral objections to the implementation of this protocol. Bishops simply do not have the competence to adjudicate between competing scientific claims about the mechanisms of drugs.
In matters that have not yet been decided definitively by the Holy See, The National Catholic Bioethics Center has refrained from adopting one or another position on a disputed question. However, in the matter of protocols for sexual assault, there is virtual unanimity that an ovulation test should be administered before giving an anovulant medication. The protocol the NCBC has supported requires the ovulation test because it provides greater medical and moral certitude that the intervention will have its desired anovulatory effect. The NCBC objects strongly to state mandates, such as those passed by Connecticut and Massachusetts, that do not allow health care professionals and facilities to exercise their best medical judgment and which do not protect the consciences of all parties. We also object to state mandates that do not allow the victim of sexual assault to have all the information necessary for a medical intervention so that she might make an informed judgment. However, the NCBC understands the judgment of the Connecticut bishops that the administration of a contraceptive medication in the absence of an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act. However, it is immoral to violate one’s conscience, including the corporate consciences of health care agencies, and the unwillingness of the state to allow an exemption of conscience makes the law unjust and onerous.
You can read the full statement a the Catholics United for the Faith blog.
CUF is a great organization and I love their CUF Blog motto "Think with the Church!"