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Catholic Church and Birth Control

History of Birth Control Ban

The Catholic church has said since its beginning that birth control was "wrong". Birth
control was known at least since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans. During
these days birth control came in the form of animal skin condoms and various poisons to
be used as spermicides.

The first mention of the ban on birth control was in Genesis 38:8-10. In this story, Onan
is ordered to sleep with his brother's widow. He "pulled out" to not get her pregnant and
was slain as a result.

The next mention of birth control being wrong is in Deuteronomy 23:1. It says "He
whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly
of the Lord." Pretty nasty ways of sterilization, those!

This message is reiterated many times in subsequent years by church leaders. Clement of
Alexandria (AD195) says, "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man,
the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted".
Reminds you of the "Every Sperm is Sacred" song from Monty Python, yes? You can
find the messages over and over again through history. People are told, abstain if you
don't want kids.

Over the centuries, all groups that broke off of the church agreed with the birth control
ban as a "normal" part of life. It was never even thought of to change this mandate
against birth control.

It was only in 1930 that the Anglicans began to weaken, and they are very careful to say
it can that birth control could only be used for *family planning* (i.e. perhaps stopping
after 3 kids if you were already starving). But with this minor change, the floodgates had
been opened. Soon all 'reform' religions said birth control in general was acceptable.
Keep in mind that this change in message came VERY quickly after over 1,000 years of
solid belief.

Pope Pius XI was quite upset by this growing acceptance of birth control. He put out a
Casti Connubii that said:

"Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some
recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this
question, the Catholic Church, ... in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial
union from being defiled by this foul stain, ... 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 offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who
indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin. "
So Pope Pius XI explicitly said that married people should have sex with the full
expectation that children could result each time. To do anything else is a grave sin.

Modern Times
In 1966, there was a Papal Commission on Birth Control. This Commission voted 30-5 to
relax the concerns on birth control. But in 1968, Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae
reiterated the anti-birth-control stance. He said this was necessary because the
commission was not unanimous, that governments could force sterilization if sterilization
was "ok", and that men who used women for sex would lose respect for them. His final
point is that God created sex to create children - and that man should not interfere with
this system.

The ban includes all impediments with the sexual act - sterilization, withdrawl, the pill,
condoms, etc. Note that the rhythm method (not having sex on certain days with the
intent to avoid child-making) which once WAS banned is now considered to be OK. The
church called this "Natural Family Planning". However there are priests who still argue
that the rhythm method - since it involves sex for pleasure while trying to avoid kids - is
therefore wrong. Even abstinence in a marriage is apparently wrong, since married people
should follow God's will to try to have children.

When Pope Paul VI died in 1978, Pope John Paul I was elected. He only lasted 33 days
before dying in mysterious conditions - after he said he was going to allow birth control
and do a sweeping reform of the Vatican. The next pope was Pope John Paul II, from
Poland. He was born in 1920, and was extremely powerful during his years of being Pope
from 1978 to 2005. In 1995 he published the Evangelium Vitae - speaking against
abortion and contraception as both being evil slayers of potential children God intended
to create. He even says that developed nations who try to bring contraceptives to third
world nations are doing it out of "selfishness" - that they want there to be fewer third
worlders around so there is "more" for the wealthy people. He says children are the
"supreme gift of marriage" that any couple should be waiting for gladly. He was very
fond of the Virgin Mary and felt that all women should have children as often as God
sends them.

John Paul II made sure he brought in believers to surround him who held these same
beliefs. When his successor was chosen in 2005, and Benedict XVI took power, there was
little hope that *anything* John Paul II had set into motion would change at all. In fact, in
2007 Pope Benedict XVI came out railing against the Italian people who he feels are
having too FEW children and therefore causing the downfall of the Catholic religion (i.e.
fewer kids = fewer paying Catholics growing up). He said this was "dangerous
individualism" causing women to choose to do things other than kick out a new baby
every year. Those women should dutifully be producing millions of new Catholics for the

Other Large Faiths

The Jewish faith believes fully in the ban on contraception. Genesis said "be fruitful and
multiply" - to try to stop children from forming would be to try to stop God's will. There
is an exception in the Talmud for women who would be medically harmed by pregnancy.

Islam allows birth control but only when used to "pace out" pregnancies - i.e. to delay
pregnancy until you are settled in an appropriate place to raise the children, or to space
out children so you can properly care for each one. Islam explicitly speaks out against
NOT having any children at all, especially if your claim is "we don't have enough
money". One relevant quote is: "Don’t kill your children for fear of poverty; it is We who
provide sustenance for them and you; verily killing them is a most heinous crime!" (Al-
Isra’: 31). While this quote talks about killing children, Islamic scholars feel it speaks
directly to parents proving their faith in Allah by having children and then accepting that
Allah will provide for their care.

The LDS church used to be very against contraception but said in 1998 "The decision as
to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private
and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge
one another in this matter. Married couples also should understand that sexual relations
within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as
a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between
husband and wife." So they now feel that sex without the intention of having children is

Reason Behind the Ban

Religions promote strongly that sex should be primarily about a committed, married
couple having children. The pleasure is a "nice side benefit" to encourage people to have
kids. If people start having sex for the *pleasure*, they will treat each other as "pleasure
objects" and not as "potential parent to my child". Also, people who have sex not to have
kids might therefore have sex out of wedlock, or have affairs, or so on. It causes a
breakdown of the entire moral fabric of society :)

The church has publicly claimed that condoms are full of tiny invisible holes that let the
HIV virus through and therefore should not be used. They say this to help "prove" that
only married, loyal couples should have sex - that any other sexual activity is risky even
with condoms.

Interestingly, in March 2004 a Catholic Church organization in California was ordered to

offer birth control coverage to its employees as part of its normal health plan, since it
employed workers of all faiths.

In the US, up to 80% of all women are now on birth control. Even though the Catholic
ban still stands in 2007, studies show that up to 96% of all sexually active Catholic
women HAVE used some form of birth control other than the rhythm method at some
point in their life. One Poll shows that 88% of Catholics (male & female) feel the official
doctrine should allow use of pill and condom. Another poll had a result of 90%. A third
poll showed 82% of Catholics felt that even in the current state of affairs, you COULD
use birth control and still be a "Good Catholic".
A survey at an abortion clinic found that 40% of women getting an abortion were
Catholic, 40% were from other religions and 20% were non-religious. This is even
though only about 24% of US people are Catholics. It seems to indicate that because
Catholics are pressured not to use birth control, they have to resort to an abortion if they
accidentially get pregnant at higher rates than other groups are. That would seem to be a
worse option. Abortion Rates Higher for Religious Women

What Can Be Done

Catholics merrily maintain this differentiation between "being Catholic" and "doing what
the Pope says to do", while donating millions of dollars to fund the Pope's agenda. This
agenda - that even most Catholics do not agree with - ends up influencing world-wide
politics. Only 17.3% of the world is Catholic, but the Catholic doctrines on issues such as
birth control and abortion end up affecting every single woman. This is true because of
anti-choice laws passed in developing countries, demonstrations at local family clinics
who may just *mention* abortion as an option, and doctors refusing to prescribe birth
control pills. I in fact was trying to switch doctors recently and was told by a doctor who
was convenient to me that sure, I could use her for check-ups, but I'd have to go
elsewhere if I wanted to get a pill prescription. She would not give *anyone* - not even a
married woman with children - access to the pill.

There have been countless studies that tie birth control and abortion rights to better living
conditions (and survival rates!) for females and for entire families. That is, proper family
planning ensures that the family has good living conditions - while having too many kids
can cause death for the mother and squalor for the family members.

The full responsibility here lies with Catholic Church members. It's not like NON
Catholics can get the Catholic church to change. 96% of Catholic women have used birth
control - yet they give money and support to an institution which is the loudest voice
against birth control. It is their responsibility to force the Catholic church to change - or
to withhold that income so that the church does not have the power to mandate policy for
others. Otherwise those women are directly responsible for the casualties caused across
the entire world, because of their "paid representatives" in the clergy. Nobody else can
possibly cause that change to occur.