The use of mechanical, chemical, or medical
procedures to prevent conception from taking place
as a result of sexual intercourse; contraception
offends against the openness to procreation required
of marriage and also the inner truth of conjugal love.
Called to give life, spouses share in the creative
power and fatherhood of God. “Married couples
should regard it as their proper mission to transmit
human life and to educate their children; they should
realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love
of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its
interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of
human and Christian responsibility (CCC 2367).
A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns
the regulation of procreation. For just reasons,
spouses may wish to space the births of their children.
It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not
motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the
generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.
Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the
objective criteria of morality (CCC 2368).
By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the
unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves
in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its
orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to
parenthood (CCC 2369).
Modern science has driven a wedge between the
unitive and procreative aspects, through the use of
artificial (hormonal) contraceptives.
Until 1930 all Christian churches and some famous
leading religious leaders, including Gandhi, opposed
contraception. Much of the argument against
contraception was that it would lead to sexual
promiscuity and would damage marriages. It is easy
to see that those assessments have proved accurate
[Smith Life Issues pg 74].
Contraception leads people to think that they can
have sex with no preparation or expectation of the
responsibility of parenthood. It launches them on a
lifestyle that treats sexual intercourse as simply a
pleasurable activity to be enjoyed by individuals
“ready” for sex—but not necessarily for children or
marriage. In spite of the use of contraceptives,
unanticipated pregnancies often happen. Thus there
is a connection between contraception and unwed
pregnancy, abortion, single‐parenthood and poverty
[Smith Life Issues pg 75‐76].
Fertility is not a disease. We take a pill to cure
something. Here the Pill is taken to destroy a healthy
function of the body.
Many couples get pregnant in spite of using
contraceptives and then speak of the pregnancy as an
“accident,” whereas truly it is not possible to get
pregnant by accident. To get pregnant as a result of
sexual intercourse means something has gone right,
not something has gone wrong [Smith Life Issues pg
Oral (combined and progestine‐only)
Hormone embedded IUD’s
Hormonal Contraceptives Mechanism of Action
Alters production of cervical mucus
Alters lining of endometrium
Alteration of fallopian tubes
Most women do NOT know how their form of contraceptive works.
Other types of Contraception
Many think that Oral Contraceptives work by
suppressing ovulation. This is incorrect. Ovulation is
not always suppressed, “by oral contraceptives…their
close to 100% effectiveness in interfering with
pregnancy is due to the effects of the progestin
component on the cervix and the uterine
endometrium…This hostile environment results in
INTERCEPTION. [Rahwan, R., Contraceptives,
Interceptives and Abortifacients. Professor of
Pharmacology and Toxicology, Ohio State University,
Breakthrough Ovulation depends on estrogen
dosage. In the current low dose Pill’s they are
more likely to permit ovulation that high does
Pill’s that are no longer prescribed.
How do we know that hormonal
contraceptives only suppress ovulaiton and not
entirely inhibit it? Consider these facts: (CCL
slide 32 “Breakthrough ovulation”)
First, when women use a hormonal contraceptive
correctly according to the manufacturer’s directions,
there is still a small but measurable number of
pregnancies (CCL slide 32 “Breakthrough ovulation”).
Breakthrough ovulation is also mentioned in
pharmaceutical companies’ literature concerning the
contraceptives they manufacture. The 2006 edition of
the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) contains a table
describing the “efficacy rate” of the birth control pill
(CCL slide 32 “Breakthrough ovulation”)..
A “typical failure rate” of 1%, meaning pregnancy
occurred 1% of the time while taking that Pill. The PDR
defines this as the rate of annual pregnancy
occurrence noted in “typical couples who initiate use
of a method (not necessarily for the first time) and
who use it consistently and correctly during the first
year if they do not stop for any other reason.” This
means that even couples who use the Pill consistently
over the course of a year have a pregnancy rate of
1%.” (CCL slide 32 “Breakthrough ovulation”)
Second, the authors of Contraceptive Technology
(2004) state that the incidence of “escape ovulation,”
[i.e. breakthrough ovulation] in earlier higher doses
was estimated in 1980 to be around 2%. They cite
research published in 1981 in the journal Clinical
Obstetrics and Gynecology to support this figure (CCL slide
33 “Breakthrough ovulation”).
However, they contend that “breakthrough
ovulation is probably higher in current lower dose
hormonal contraceptive pills,” citing a 1998 study
in the American Journal of Obstetrics and
Gynecology. In this study, 20 mcg pills (a low does
type pill) were used and researchers found
progesterone levels indicative of luteinization of a
follicle and ovulation in 8.3% of women’s blood
samples (CCL slide 33 “Breakthrough ovulation”)
Third, modern medical testing techniques such as
transvaginal ultrasonography make it possible to
visualize the development of ovarian follicles to
determine if any eggs are released. A number of
studies have reported follicular development in
women who take hormonal birth control (CCL slide 34
Breakthrough ovulation is highly dependent upon
Ovulation rates range from 1.7% to 28.6% for
combined oral contraceptives.
Ovulation rates range from 33% to 65% for
progesterone only pills.
Therefore breakthrough ovulation occurs.
[Larimore W, Stanford J,. Postfertilization Effects of
Oral Contraceptives and Their Relationship to
Informed Consent. Arch Fam Med 2009; 9: 126‐133.
Handout from CCL Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
Note should be made of oral contraceptive
compliance (adult women)
47% of Pill users failed to take one or more pills per cycle
22% of Pill users failed to take two or more pills [Rosenburg M.J.
Fam Plann Perspect 1998; 30:89‐92; 104. Handout from CCL
Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
Unintended pregnancy rates in users of combined
Oral Contraceptives is
4 % for “good compliers”
8% for “poor compliers”
29% for some users [Potter L.S. How Effective are Oral
Contraceptives? The Determination and Measurement of
Pregnancy Rates. Obstet Gynecol 1996; 88 (supplament 3): 13s‐
23s. Handout from CCL Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
One claim to proscribe the Pill for women is for a
Is there ever a medical reason for using the Pill?
There is always an alternative which may uncover the
problem which caused the gynecologic disorder for which
the pill is prescribed. There is always a reason why women
don’t ovulate normally, have intermenstrual bleeding,
have pain or infertility. To prescribe the Pill for these
symptoms may delay or prevent a diagnosis [Mary Martin,
M.D., ob/gyn, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Handout from
CCL Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
Why do physicians give the Pill to regulate cycles?
While this may sound rather arrogant, in my opinion, it is
because they don’t truly understand the endocrinology of the
menstrual cycle. Even reproductive endocrinologists (fertility
specialists) recite the same data that was published in the 1940s
and 50s. Fortunately, research has revealed much about the
cycle since then, but seems to be the domain of NFP
Common knowledge says that women can’t tell when they are
fertile, which is untrue and has been since the “red flow” and
the “white flow” was described by Aristotle centuries ago. A
major medical journal published an article in January of 2003
claiming that women can ovulate more than once in a cycle.
Simply not true. While waves of follicles (egg cells) are recruited
every month, not all ovulate. Ovulation can occur only once in a
cycle. How long it takes a follicle to ripen
determines how long the menstrual cycle is. When the Pill was
introduced in 1960 the statement that the average menstrual
cycle is 28 days was introduced into the vernacular leading
women to believe that anything more or less is “irregular” and
needs to be “regulated.” [Mary Martin, M.D., ob/gyn, Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. Handout from CCL Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13,
Doesn’t the Pill regulate irregular bleeding?
No. See above answer. Also, the monthly bleeding that occurs,
while on the Pill, is the artificial bleeding of the chemicals being
reduced. This is not the woman’s cycle, but the drug induced
one (the woman’s cycle is being suppressed) [Mary Martin,
M.D., ob/gyn, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Handout from CCL
Clergy Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
The planned ingestion of hormones and placebos
produces the outward appearance of a cycle because
the bleeding occurs at regular intervals. On synthetic
hormonal birth control any bleeding is technically
referred to as withdrawal bleeding because it usually
results from the absence or withdraw of the synthetic
hormones (CCL slide 38 “Breakthrough ovulation”). .
The bleeding is NOT the result of shedding of the
lining of the uterus that occurs with a true
menstruation. True menstruation is a bleeding that
results after a woman’s nornal progesterone output
from the corpus luteum drops. In a hormonal
contraceptive “cycle” the bleeding occurs because
the progestins are discontinued, not because the
woman’s own corpus luteum ceased to function (CCL slide
38 “Breakthrough ovulation”).
What kinds of side effects are common with using
High blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, especially in
women who have migraine or familial risk of blood clotting
disorders, increased risk of deep venous thrombosis which
may result in fatal pulmonary embolus, intermenstrual
bleeding, Pap smear abnormalities, and worsening of
insulin resistance, which is a pre‐diabetic disorder,
depression and decreased sex drive, breast and cervical
cancer, just to name a few [Mary Martin, M.D., ob/gyn,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Handout from CCL Clergy
Seminar, Nov. 11‐13, 2008].
Many faithful Catholic doctors think that there are
very few occasion when it would be necessary for
women to take the Pill. In our culture many doctors
prescribe the pill for all sorts of conditions that can be
treated successfully by nonhormonal medicines and
by lifestyle changes, including weight loss, proper
nutrition and exercise. Women whose physicians
recommend the pill
for therapeutic reasons should attempt to discover
if there are other viable treatments for their medical
condition. They could consult an NFP‐only
physician—that is, a physician who does not prescribe
contraceptives. They may be surprised to find that
other treatment options are available [Smith Life
Issues pg 84].
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is usually
transmitted through sexual intercourse. HPV is at
present the most common sexually transmitted
infection in the world, and several of its most
common strains cause cervical cancer. The incidence
of cervical cancer has decreased greatly in
the United States since Pap smears became
available. These allow early treatment both of the
condition that is a precursor to cervical cancer and to
cervical cancer itself. Nonetheless, not all women go
for regular Pap smears, and not all Pap smears are
conducted well, so some women still risk cervical
cancer from HPV.
Efforts in various communities to make vaccinations
for HPV mandatory for girls (the usual ages
recommended are nine through eleven) argue that
even those girls who abstain until marriage are at risk,
since a future spouse may be infected or a girl may be
a victim of rape at some time. Those who object to
vaccination believe that there has not been
sufficient testing to determine the long‐term risks and
effectiveness of the vaccine, that the billions
necessary for universal vaccination would be better
spent on ordinary health care for those who cannot
afford it, and that it sends young girls the implicit
message that we expect them to be sexually active.
Others believe that voluntary vaccination should be
encouraged. They argue that studies of the vaccine
are sufficient to determine that its risk is low, that the
long‐term savings from treatment of cancer would
outweigh the costs and that parents are best able to
determine what protection their daughters need and
what message the vaccine would send in respect to
immoral sexual behavior.
The Catholic Medical Association, an organization
faithful to the Magisterium, recommends wide
distribution of the vaccine but maintains that it should
require parental consent for minor girls [All above
HPV discussion taken from Smith Life Issues pg 91‐92].
Principle of Double Effect
Principle of Totality/Integrity
Principle of Cooperation