Many people today believe that contraception and abortion are two separate issues, even though in reality they are very much intertwined. The pharmaceutical companies are a big cause of this confusion, due to their often misleading advertising. We will endeavour to put some clarity on this controversial issue in this article.
Contraception is the use of an artificial entity used to prevent the sperm and ovum from uniting and creating life. Abortion is the termination of that life at the moment of fertilization, or at any time during the pregnancy.
We must be certain of one fundamental point right from the beginning. And that is; the life of every human being begins at the moment of fertilization, when the sperm and ovum are united.1 This is a biologically certified fact, researched and proven by modern scientists and doctors. Anything that prevents or causes this to happen is a contraceptive act and against the mentality of life.
Contraception, from the Latin contra (against) and conceptio (to conceive), literally means "against conception." It may be defined as "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible."2
Note that in this definition contraception is not regarded as a classification of things alone that act against conception, but that it extends to the broader consideration of action, that is, a choice or act of the will against the natural fertility of sex. Hence it is not the material artificiality of contraception or the interference of man-made devices with a God-given faculty alone that makes it unnatural. The artificiality of contraception extends to the wilful frustration of one’s true end. In other words, it violates the natural law, the purpose for which man and marriage were designed.
A contraceptive agent prevents conception by one or more of four specific actions. It can: place an actual mechanical barrier such as a condom or cervical cap between the sperm and ovum to prevent them from uniting; thicken the cervical mucus; inhibit ovulation, thereby preventing the release of a mature ovum; and block the Fallopian tube or vas deferens through sexual sterilization.
Contrary to popular belief, the Church does not oppose artificial birth control because it’s artificial. She opposes it because it’s contraceptive. Contraception is the choice by any means to impede the procreative potential of a given act of intercourse. In other words, the contracepting couple chooses to engage in intercourse, and, foreseeing that their act may result in a new life, they intentionally and willfully suppress their fertility.3
It is a profound shock to about two million women every year when they become pregnant despite contraceptive use. Women who become pregnant while using contraceptives tend to equate the preborn child with a "contraceptive failure." Their general impulse (in no way discouraged by the pill pushers) is to rectify the failure by taking advantage of that great social eraser – abortion. Let us just state here that a receptive attitude towards contraception leads to the same attitude towards abortion.
"The authentic love of God within the matrimonial communion is manifested necessarily in a positive attitude towards life, and becomes fruitful in procreation." As Pope Paul VI taught: "Every conjugal act should be open to the transmission of life."4
"Contraception is a falsification of conjugal love, because it converts the gift of sharing in the creative action of God to a mere convergence of petty selfishness."– Pope John Paul II.5
An abortifacient destroys the preborn child who is already conceived. The general definition of "abortifacient" is "a drug or agent that induces an abortion." Depending upon the type of abortifacient, this killing can take place at virtually any stage of pregnancy, by preventing implantation of the blastocyst (the very early developing human being), by killing the unborn child shortly after implantation, or by killing the child later in pregnancy.
Pro-abortionists are now distorting even the meanings of the terms "abortion" and "abortifacient" in order to blur the distinction between contraceptives and abortifacients.
The first type of abortifacient includes drugs and devices designed to continually maintain a certain level of hormones in the woman’s body and repeatedly kill early preborn children before or at implantation (without the woman’s knowledge). These include; oral contraceptives (OCs); intrauterine devices (IUDs); Depo-Provera; and Norplant and Norplant-2 (Jadelle).
The second type of abortifacient kills a preborn child who is known or suspected to exist. These abortifacients include; The RU-486 abortion pill; the methotrexate/misoprostol (M&M) combination; and "emergency contraception."
This type of abortifacient regime has many forms, including; the "Yuzpe Regimen," which consists of taking combined ethinyl estradiol/levonorgestrel pills at a higher than normal dose or taking pills specifically designed to cause early abortions. These are often called "emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)," "morning-after pills (MAPs)" and "postcoital contraception," and consist of high doses of the artificial steroids found in oral contraceptives. Two examples are Plan B and Preven.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI condemned every form of contraception as being unworthy of the dignity of the human person. He predicted that the use of contraception would result in increased marital infidelity; a general lowering of morality, especially among the young people; husbands viewing their wives as mere sex objects; and government forcing massive birth control programs on their people. Forty-two years later, we can see his predictions have indeed come true.
The teaching of the Catholic Church on contraception has not changed – and will never change. On November 12, 1988, Pope John Paul II addressed the final session of a three-day meeting of 300 Catholic moral theologians at the Pontifical Lateran University to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Humanae Vitæ. There, he summarized the Church’s teaching against birth control in a single sentence: "No personal or social circumstances have ever or can ever justify such an (contraceptive) act."
Those who dissent from Church teachings in sexual matters are the most likely to claim they are only following their own consciences. But they leave out a vital part of the equation: It is only licit to follow one’s conscience when that conscience is properly formed and the conclusions reached are in accord with the teachings of the Church.
Of all of the many clear statements against contraception, perhaps the most definitive is that of Pope Pius XI: "But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it, deliberately frustrating its natural power and purpose, sin against nature and commit a deed which is disgraceful and intrinsically vicious…
"In order that she [the Catholic Church] may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, she raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship, and through our mouth proclaims anew: Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.6
"Therefore, we base our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when we are obliged once more to declare that 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."7
"The truth expressed in ‘Humanae Vitæ’ does not change," Pope Benedict XVI affirmed on May 12, 2008. "Quite the contrary, in the light of new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more relevant and stimulates reflection on the intrinsic values it possesses."
The Pontiff affirmed that "in a culture suffering from the prevalence of having over being, human life risks losing its value. If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave the partner to one’s own desires and interests, without respecting the times of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer just the concept of love but, primarily, the dignity of the person. As believers we could never allow the power of technology to invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life.
"Natural law," he said, "deserves to be recognized as the source inspiring the relationship between a married couple in their responsibility to generate children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature, and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which everyone must refer.
"Nascent life," the Pope continued, "is the fruit of a love capable of thinking and choosing in complete freedom, without allowing itself to be overly conditioned by the sacrifice this may require. From here emerges the miracle of life which parents experience in themselves as they sense the extraordinary nature of what is achieved in them and through them. No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that husband and wife exchange as a sign of the greater mystery, in which they are protagonists and co-participants of creation."
1 cf.OskarHertwig, http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/dbefruchtung/zygote03.html
2 Humane Vitæ nr. 14
3 Dr. Brian Clowes, "Contraception" published by Human Life International
4 Humanae Vitæ, nr. 11
5 Homily at El Alto Airport in La Paz, Bolivia, May 10, 1988, "Defend Human Life and Dignity, Your Nation and Your Culture."
6 Casti Connubii nr. 7
7 Humanae Vitæ, nr. 16