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May we use birth control to avoid a difficult pregnancy?

Full Question

My wife has difficult pregnancies and is terrified of getting pregnant again. She wants to use contraception. Does the Church allow it under these circumstances?

Answer

My heart goes out to you and your wife. A difficult pregnancy is not something any woman looks forward to, especially when she’s experiencing emotional distress. But there is never justification for the deliberate interruption of the conjugal act through the use of contraception. Humanae Vitae clearly states

[T]hat the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children…Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. 
Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one…Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. (Humanae Vitae 14)

If you need to avoid pregnancy due to the difficulties your wife encounters during them, then the thing to do is investigate Natural Family Planning. There are many resources for this online, such as those provided by the Couple to Couple League, International (www.ccli.org).










3 comments

  1. Marion Paul Reply

    I had 9 pregnancies. First 3 were full term, next one was a premature and now has cerebral palsy, #5 was born at 6 mos. died at birth. #6 was
    also premature but survived. #7and 8 were premature, both died at birth, then the last one I miscarried. Then I finally started using birth control.
    I had to bury three little babies. Now I tell you, I had very irregular periods. Tell me what does a person do in that case?

  2. Toia Reply

    Evidently that is your cross to bear. You got a heavy one, I won´t argue that. Very tough. But that´s the thing with your own cross, there´s no easy way out, you´ve got to embrace it, that´s what Christ asks us to do in order to folllow him. And birth control, is your easy way out. Read again this post and specially the Humanae Vitae extract and understand that birth control is never ever the catholic way.

  3. Theresa Strenge Reply

    God bless you Marion; you and your precious family have 3 intercessors and the sting of death is lessened because you have children to look forward to meeting. It’s awesome to think about what heaven will be like. Do you know about NaProTechnology, Marion? it is a new reproductive science that works cooperatively with a woman’s procreative cycle. The NaPro docs treat your situation so differently than mainstream docs. You probably have an underlying issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, evaluated and properly and thoroughly treated, that is causing you to have your babies too early. It might be as simple as progesterone insufficiency throughout the pregnancy. fertilitycare.org will direct you to FertilityCare Practitioners and NaPro trained physicians.

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