Contraception & Birth Control
Contraception literally means –against(contra)-(con)ception.1 “[D]espite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree.”2 The culture of death is quietly growing in the prevalent use of contraceptives and sterilization to deny the God-given fertility of men and women. Contraceptive’s first “mechanisms” are to “prevent” conception, but when this "prevention" fails, many contraceptives act as abortifacients and destroy the newly created person. And when contraceptives fail completely and the contraceptive mindset is already in place – abortion is often the resultant remedy.
Not only is contraception – against the life of the new born child – it is also detrimental to married love and detrimental to the dignity of the woman – whether married or single. When the sexual act is separated from its potential fecundity is reduced to an act of use. Contraception, instead of liberating women, has caused them to be used as objects of use.
Facts & Figures
Contraception are the techniques and birth control methods use to prevent or stop human fertilization. Contraceptives can be abortifacient, preventing the implantation of the fertilized egg and the removal or expulsion of the fetus or embryo from the uterus.
- The Catholic Church teaches that “the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally excluded … is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or the woman.”
- Contraception includes barrier methods, such as condoms or the diaphragm, injectable contraceptives, and hormonal contraception, also known as oral contraception.
- Sterilization is most common form of contraception, second to the pill
- The “pill” increases the risk of breast cancer by over 40% if taken before a woman delivers her first baby. If taken 4 or more years before the woman’s first child is born, the increase for breast cancer is 70% more. The pill can also increase the risk of liver and cervical cancer.
- Forty-eight percent of women with unintended pregnancies (5) and 54% of women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant.
- Numerous studies examining sexual behavior and STD transmission have demonstrated risk compensation behavior, i.e., a greater willingness to engage in potentially risky behavior when one believes risk has been reduced through technology.9Increasing access to contraception gives teens a false sense of security, leading to earlier onset of sexual activity and more sexual partners, which counteracts any reduction in unintended pregnancies.
- Twenty-three studies published between 1998 and 2006, and analyzed by James Trussell’s team at Princeton University, measured the effect of increased EC access on EC use, unintended pregnancy, and abortion. Not a single study among the 23 found a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions following increased access to emergency contraception.
Educational Materials on Church Teaching
Respect Life Programs
Respect Life 101
Contraception & NFP: Presentation / Facilitator Notes
USCCB: Abstinence and Chastity
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): Contraception
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): Respect for Human Life
Mulieris Dignitatem: The Dignity and Vocation of Women (MD)
Blessed John Paul II's Letter to Women
Evangelium Vitae: The Gospel of Life (EV)
Donum Vitae: The Gift of Life (DV)
Humanae Vitae (HV)
Additional On-Line Materials
Janet Smith, "Contraception: Why Not?"
Leadership & Volunteer Opportunities
If you or your organization has expertise or an interest in the topic of contraception and birth control, or if you would like to learn how you can assist in the life-saving work of the Respect Life Office by becoming a resource for information on the Church's teaching on contraception and birth control, please contact us.