Can we contracept for medical reasons?

Full Question

My husband and I want another baby but were told by my doctor that because of my health problems we should use contraceptives for at least a year. Our priest agreed with the doctor and said the Church allows for the use of contraception when a pregnancy would seriously jeopardize a woman’s health. Somehow this doesn’t sound right. What does the Church teach?


Your priest is terribly misinformed. The deliberate use of contraception on the part of spouses to prevent a pregnancy is never licit (CCC 2399).

Humanae Vitae states:

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, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. 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. (HV 14)

Answered by: Peggy Frye



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    There’s no real biblical justification for denying contraception. The Church uses this doctrine to ensure that sex remains evil unless practiced according to the dictates of virgin men dressed in robes (well except for those who dally with the altar boys). The only biblical justification they use is the story of Onan, who did not want to follow Jewish law and impregnate his dead brother’s wife. He was killed by God for refusing to obey a screwball Jewish law regarding certain rights of inheritance – not because he practiced coitus interruptus. He was punished for breaking a Jewish law – not for using contraception.

    The idea behind the law, as I understand it, was to care for women whose husband died, because without bearing children who would inherit something, her only options were starvation or prostitution. Women were chattel and if some man did not own them through fatherhood, marriage, being a concubine or slavery, then they were screwed. The law attempted to give her children with inheritance rights so that she and her kids could be cared for by the surviving brother. Onan didn’t want to do that. His sin was breaking the inheritance law – not the method by which he did it.

    Obviously such laws are defunct now, but of course the RCC can’t let go of anything that might point to sex being bad, since it empowers them with the tools of guilt, fear, and shame with which they control the sheeple. The RCC’s justification for this disastrous doctrine responsible for so much misery in the world, is paper thin. Is it a greater sin to be instrumental in the horrific deaths of thousands month after month because of starvation and disease, simply because women were denied contraception under penalty of an eternal torment that is also not biblical?

    Contraception is not intrinsically wrong. Get off your knees and start thinking for yourself.

    1. Michael W Reply

      Hello. Then, where in bible it states that condom is right? So who are to say it is right? You have no Authority only Church has Timothy 3:15. Anyways, there is a verse that is concern about this but not directly see Genesis 38:9. “8Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. 10But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also”. Anyways, the Church teaching about contraception is all about natural law and sanctity of marriage. The Church never said the sex is evil. As a matter of fact it hold it on a high esteem that married people are only should partake in it. Sex is ok but adultery is bad. Just like food is ok but gluttony is bad.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        You turn to Timothy to justify the Church’s authority, but a great many scholars insist that Tim’s epistle was not written by Paul, who likely died a couple decades earlier. The bible, in any event, is the claim, not the proof – not the evidence. That’s what is so perverse about the contraception issue. There is nothing of authority in a book that has no proven authority, with which to justify forcing thousands of children to die month in and month out because of starvation and disease. The RCC considers the deaths of those children to be far less important than their doctrine that isn’t even biblical.

        What Onan did that was displeasing to God, was his failure to uphold the Jewish inheritance laws. It’s only when you’re grasping for straws to defend an indefensible doctrine that you twist scripture to say Onan’s sin was coitus interruptus; i.e. contraception. Besides, I thought the rhythm method was acceptable and the motivation is exactly the same – to prevent conception.

        The RCC has always used sex – something personal and private – as a tool for guilt, shame, and fear of an unbiblical Hell. Of course it’s bad – it’s how original sin is passed down. Of course now that the RCC has accepted evolution, that pretty much does away with the whole original sin thing – so you might expect them to lighten up – but certainly not yet!

    2. Bridget E. Farace Reply

      The penalty for refusing to wed your brother’s widow was basically public humiliation. The woman would take off your sandal at the city gates and spit at you, or something to that effect. Then she would go about her business, and you would go about yours, and nobody would ever bother you about it again. Onan was punished for using a woman as a plaything. The whole point of wedding a childless widow in this situation was so that she would have children to look after her when she was old. There was no Social Security. No safety net. No pension. There was only family. To agree to marry her and do this for her, only to contracept and use her body as a mere plaything, was downright horrible of him. If he’d done the decent thing and simply declined to marry her, she could have married some other guy who actually wanted kids. But no. He had to take her off the market, and then use her for a plaything. God was having none of that.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Bridget, you need to reread the story. Your interpretation flies in the face of the actual words:
        “9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.”
        Onan’s motivation is perfectly clear. He was trying to avoid the inheritance laws. The story says nothing about him using his brother’s wife as a plaything. He was instructed to perform this duty by his father. There were plenty of prostitutes for that, if that’s what Onan wanted – women such as his brother’s wife, who without offspring were stuck with starving or becoming prostitutes. In fact, if you keep reading, you find out that his daddy Judah, ancestor to Jesus, was the one who did the “fooling around” with his daughter in law. If she hadn’t tricked him, she’d have spent the rest of her life as a prostitute.

  2. Val Reply

    If you’re not trying to prevent pregnancy, I believe using contraceptives should be ok. The church teaches that sex is made for a man and woman who are in union with God to procreate, which is why the church is against contraceptives. But you are using them to help you procreate because of medical conditions that prevent you to do otherwise. There shouldn’t be a problem with that. Although there are other non-contraceptive methods like hormone replacement therapy can could also help you.

  3. Sonia Reply

    God for give you that as put evil words on here if you cannot say something nice do not say eney think at all I am sick of people putting on here about priest messing about with boys well at the end of the day there did not want to be priest to stand and say I will teach ar lords words is evil to kill a child is evil there went into the church to try and pull it down but god sees every thing

  4. Sandra Reply

    There it is. The slap in the face meant to silence a Catholic and degrade the priesthood. You would think it had been enough already, but the priest/sex scandal card still gets played,

    IThe John Jay report released on May 18, 2011 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York which examined the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church in depth.

    Sex abuse of children is epidemic throughout society. Pedophilia among priests is extremely rare, only 0.3% of the entire clergy (Yes, 0.3% is absolutely still too much but citing it as the norm is ridiculous).* It has been reported that sexual abuse by teachers in public schools is “more than 100 times” that by Catholic priests. Yet there is little reporting on this but old allegations of abuse by Catholic priests keep getting rehashed.

    Fulton Sheen was right when he said, “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church.”There are those who sow seeds of conflict, which is a tool of Satan, One needs to stop repeating what they’ve been told and find out for themselves what is taught (from those who live and teach the religion, not those who are not members or those who are former members.
    Ask yourself: why do I hate the Catholic Church? Who taught me what I think I know about the Catholic Church? Is what I was taught true? Have I looked at what the Catholic Church has to say about itself, using official resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and papal encyclicals? Could my opinion of the Catholic Church possibly be based on bias, bigotry, bad history, propaganda from the secular media?,Is it fair to judge doctrine by such things? Is any group with human beings in it free from sin and scandal? If I am wrong about the Catholic Church, what does that mean? What are the ramifications for creating division between Christians?

    This sure beats using chemicals and other accepted methods that are actually classified as abortifacients and/or class I carcinogens.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Sandra, the “sin” of the priests who committed the abuse is far overshadowed by the “sin” of the organization that shielded them. That is the true horror. That is the scandal that is called The Catholic Church.

      The organization has shown itself to be corrupt. How could such an organization really be associated in some holy way with the divine, if such exists?

      Some of us are entitled to speak our minds regarding Catholicism, having experienced it’s indoctrinated fear and Iron Age doctrines. Some of us actually know what we’re talking about and don’t hate the Church because we think it’s an agent of Lucifer as the fundies do. Some of us understand that it’s frequently corrupt and knows no more about ultimate truths of whether there are gods or afterlives than any other human being on earth.

      1. Ayron Reply

        Nah bro you got it all wrong, you seem to feel that it’s the priests that make up the the catholic church but it isn’t , it’s all the faithful joined together that make up our religion. To say the church shielded priests that failed is to include me and everyone I know and I can tell you if I found a priest doing so i would drag him out to the street and pray I have the strength to resist stomping him. Look at the teachings in place and let that be the reason for the faith in God’s true church. In history there was plenty of failures but someone always rose up and fixed it. Complaining and blaming never got it fixed. The best way Is to properly evangelize our children so they grow up passing on the true faith this way the bad seeds will not pass forward and you will see with love christ kept his promise that he will be with us. As for the contraception thing. The church never insinuated that Intercourse was evil and as a convert I never felt that put on me and for those who did it was always discovered they were not properly evangelized. Proper Intercourse and chastity brings a man and his wife closer together with REAL FAITH Gods gifts are endless and the church promotes natural family planning and it works… I say from experience it also helps with the wondering eye. It’s awesome and no substitute like contriception can ever replace the natural order of life and love but you have to have faith and try it yourself. I did, and my marriage tho not perfect has lasted despite the opposition.
        And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          Ayron, are you a member of the clergy? Do you establish doctrine and dogma? Do you have control over where abusive priests are sent? You are playing semantic games. The “organization” that is the Roman Catholic Church is headquartered in Vatican city and unless you are a member of the clergy, you have nothing to do with their crimes, unless you empowered them with your silence by failing to speak out against the organization. If you wish to include yourself in the list of guilty, then feel free to do so. The fact that Catholic sheeple allowed this to go on for so long, also tells us a story of betrayal.
          The Church equates original sin with sex. That is how it gets passed along. You get a gal pregnant, and when she delivers, the kid has original sin. No sex = no original sin. The two are irretrievably linked together. That is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin. He couldn’t be born with original sin and if Mary had sex with Joseph she would have passed along his original sin.
          In those days, they didn’t understand that the woman contributed half the genetic material. They thought she just carried the man’s seed. When they discovered in the 1800s that women contributed to the new child, this created a problem because it meant that Mary could pass on original sin, as well as Joseph (if he had had sex with her), and that is because Mary had original sin since her parents did the naughty deed. In order to “fix” this, they decided that Mary was born without original sin, in 1854. The problem with this solution is that it indicates that Yahweh/Jesus can cause us to be born without original sin if he wants to. No silly rigamarole is required for salvation if Yahweh/Jesus just does the same thing for everyone else that he did for Mary. There was no need for Yahweh to impregnate Mary without her consent, in order to be born as Jesus, so that he could sacrifice himself (Jesus) to himself (Yahweh) in order to relieve us of a condition he placed on us in the first place…… except that the DNA evidence does not support the idea of a 2-person DNA bottleneck. There was no Adam and Eve, no talking snakes, no fall from grace, no original sin, because evolution and DNA tell us the circumstances that the Church insists on did not, and could not have happened. The math just doesn’t work out when we look at the diversity of our DNA. One day they will have to admit this, just as they eventually had to admit that the earth was not the center of the universe.
          And of course the bible doesn’t say a word about contraception, does it? You are controlled by an organization of disordered, celibate virgins, dressed up in robes who have at least done us the great favor of removing themselves from the gene pool. And natural family planning does not work reliably at all. I am the oldest of seven in a Catholic family, and trust me, if it worked, mom would have stopped after the first couple, and if not for eventually using contraception, I might be the oldest of twelve – something my mother would have been utterly incapable of dealing with. She would have left us. You have to remember that in some parts of the world, children born because the Church insisted that parents who couldn’t afford large families must do so under penalty of eternal torment if they use contraception, are dying as I type these words. Family planning works – yeah, you just wait for the kids to starve to death. That’s another approach to family planning that the Church apparently supports.

  5. Mary-Therese Reply

    What about if one takes toxic medication which can deform a baby or even cause miscarriage for example I have to take chemo medication all my life for an auto immune diseases and if one wants to fall pregnant she or her husband has to be off it for 3 months and plus before the meds are out of the system what happens there. This is why I’m so worried I refuse to talk to anyone and think of marriage cause i think I’m committing a sin if I was told by the doctor I have to take the pill and if I stop medication my immune system goes pysco.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Mary-Therese, it’s horrible that you have to suffer anguish over such questions in the first place. Please look no closer than your own conscience. I would encourage you to live out your life with as much joy as you can; and to marry and enjoy healthy sexual relations with all the gusto a good marriage can bring – and to take your contraception so that you remain healthy.

      What about if you have your tubes tied? The RCC might still call that an attempt at contraception, but heck; you can go to Confession once and be over and done with it. I’m kidding. Do whatever is best for you – not what’s best for a bunch of virgin men dressed in robes who consider you to be a a lesser being simply for being female. Why would you care what they say? They don’t know any more about whether there is really a god or an afterlife than you or anyone else.

  6. Catherine Caron Reply

    Does anyone truly believe that God wants a Mother to die ?? The church teaches the Bilings method of Birth control . If you have a dispensation from the church how is that not valid and why was the question not answered by a Priest or Bishop, but a lay person ??

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      “Does anyone truly believe that God wants a Mother to die ??” Apparently so. The Catholic Church does. “Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year old dentist died on 28 October 2012, at University Hospital Galway in Ireland, due to complications of a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks gestation.” The law supported by the RCC refused an abortion to save the life of the mother. Of course Catholic God wants a mother to die rather than have an abortion. Are you kidding? Don’t you know the Church teaching? God wants that mother to die, rather than have an abortion – says a bunch of celibate men in robes. But what happens to them? The mother, goes to heaven, assuming she’s a Catholic in good standing, but her baby goes to Hell or Limbo, although the Church says Catholics are allowed to “hope” that the soul will be saved. That hope is slim though, because the Catechism is clear that baptism is required for salvation thanks to that mythical original sin thing.
      Take another example: “In 2009, a nine-year-old Brazilian girl became pregnant with twins. The girl’s mother obtained an abortion for the girl and, afterward, Archbishop José Sobrinho said that automatic excommunication applied to the girl’s mother and to the doctors who performed the abortion.” The stepfather who raped his nine year old daughter was not excommunicated because abortion is the greater sin – and that, I assume, is because the Church believes that the souls of those aborted fetuses are sent to Hell by God. Who could worship such a god?
      The “rhythm” method is notoriously unreliable. Do you know what they call women who practice this sort of birth control? Mothers. There isn’t a word in the bible about contraception. Don’t let celibate men in robes put your life in danger over their Iron Age beliefs.

  7. David Champion Reply

    The only time birth control can be used is if it is treating a medical condition and not used for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Such as heavy menstral bleeding or pain related to menstral problems.

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