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Emergency Contraception: Catholics In Favor, Bishops Opposed

Publication Date: 
August, 2011

While polls of Catholics show that they support access to emergency contraception both after rape and as a fallback contraceptive method, Catholic bishops around the world continue to oppose access.

Emergency contraception (EC) is a term used to describe contraceptive methods that can be used up to five days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Whether because of a broken condom, a moment of passion, a calendar miscalculation or the tragedy of rape, women frequently find themselves needing a second chance to prevent a pregnancy. EC gives women that second chance. The most widely available EC method is levonorgestrel-alone pills; this publication refers only to the levonorgestrel form of EC, sometimes referred to by its brand name, Plan B, in the United States. The Vatican opposes artificial methods of contraception, although the majority of Catholics around the world support the use of contraception.

This briefing paper details how the Catholic bishops continue to oppose access to emergency contraception in countries around the world, going against the beliefs of the majority of their constituents, and how advocates, policymakers, and healthcare professionals are fighting back. It is intended to serve as an educational and advocacy tool, especially in contexts in which access to EC is currently restricted as a result of meddling by local Catholic bishops in the area of reproductive health policy.

Download "Emegency Contraception: Catholics in Favour, Bishops Opposed".