Top bishop expects new morning-after pill rules
Germany's leading Catholic said on Monday he expected Church guidelines for the morning-after pill to be relaxed so Catholic institutions nationwide can give the pill to rape victims.
Robert Zollitsch, Archbishop of Freiburg and head of the German bishops, told Bavarian broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that it was possible “if it becomes clear during the bishops' discussions that the morning after pill can be prescribed only to prevent conception as a result of rape.”
The spring meeting of the German Bishops' Conference is set to include the question of whether the morning after pill should be given to rape victims - last week the archbishop of North Rhine-Westphalia gave the state's Catholic hospitals and clinics the go-ahead to provide the drug to women who had been raped.
Zollitsch told Bavarian broadcaster Bayerischen Rundfunk it was possible “if it becomes clear during the bishops' discussions that the morning after pill can be prescribed only to prevent conception as a result of rape.”
Two Catholic clinics in NRW came under fire in January after they refused to help a woman who had been raped - because they would have been required to give her information about the morning-after pill. Their reasoning was that their medical treatment of the woman could have ended a pregnancy, which is against Church doctrine.
The state's Health Minister Barbara Steffens then said that they had failed to offer the woman thorough medical treatment and that their decision had put the service available at NRW's Catholic health facilities into question.
Zollitsch also told regional radio Südwestrundfunk the Trier conference would include discussion of child abuse scandals, the role of women in the church and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Zollitsch said that he expected a younger Pope to be elected into the Vatican. “Most likely the new Pope will be under 70, or at least younger than the current one," he said.