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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 08 Jul 2002

NFP QUESTION from Dave March 15, 2000
Basically, if done correctly, NFP and the pill are statistically similar in their ability to prevent pregnancy. With either form of birth control, the couple is assured a slim-to-none chance of actually conceiving. Whether or not the barrier is chemical (with the pill), physical (with a condom), or intellectual (NFP) - it is nonetheless a barrier and rules against a true openess to children. Afterall, if a couple were truly open to children, they wouldn't need to go through all the NFP procedures! If you do NFP right, the couple is only open to a one in a thousand chance of having a child. That being said, I don't see the moral difference between the two methods. Either way, both the egg and sperm are INTENTIONALLY wasted. Remember the lesson of Onan. Didn't the Church at one time discourage natural techniques such as NFP? Even teach against them (non-authoritatively)? In any case, is there a flaw in the reasoning above? Your help is appreciated in this manner. To many, NFP represents a trick by which Catholics are allowed to engage in recreational sex. When I brought up this issue to a priest he got frustrated and scolded me saying If you don't like NFP then be abstinent!! And I just can't deal with such a non-answer. I appreciate your time in this matter ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on April 6, 2000
Dear Dave, In 1968 Pope Paul VI prophesied against grave consequences from artificial birth control: increased marital infidelity and a lowering of moral standards; increased lack of respect for women, including seeing women as a sex object rather than a partner in marriage; and the danger of empowering public authorities to regulate the lives of others. These warnings are becoming realities. It certainly appears that he was right. Statistics prove the rapid increase of divorce, at a rate of 50 percent during the first five years of marriage. Any person can attest to the deterioration of the moral quality of television and movies during the past 25 years. Crimes of rape continue to rise each year; pornography has become increasingly prevalent; and the news is replete with cases of sexual harassment. Moreover, some municipal or state governments, such as Maryland and Kansas, have attempted to begin programs which pay women to use Norplant (the five-year contraceptive implanted in a woman's arm) to control the pregnancies of teenagers and welfare recipients. While condemning the use of artificial birth control, the Church recognizes that some couples face serious situations in their marriage and family which move them to postpone a pregnancy, even indefinitely. To assist couples, the Church implores couples to turn to a natural method of regulating birth, which God Himself has designed as part of the reproductive system. This method is simply called Natural Family Planning. Actually, one of the earliest forms of natural family planning is breast feeding. If a woman breast feeds her baby consistently? she probably will not conceive for 18-24 months. Many tribal people naturally regulate birth this way. What is the difference between Natural Family Planning and artificial birth control? Both seem to do the same thing. While both means may have the same intent postponing pregnancy the difference lies in the means themselves. With Natural Family Planning, couples keep their covenant of life and love intact. They use only the means given to them by God, which are intrinsic to who they are. In expressing their marital love, they are mindful that this action not only unites them as husband and wife, but also may participate in God's creative love. Rather than suppress and ignore one dimension, they respect both dimensions. Therefore, if they decide for a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy, then both husband and wife make the decision and both share in the sacrifice of not expressing their marital love during the period of ovulation. Natural Family Planning is also safe and the burden shared by both husband and wife. Moreover the couple is open to the providence of God's will. If a child should come who was not planned? so be it --that is God's will and God's gift. With artificial birth control, where the couple has everything nicely planned and is in control, the surprise pregnancy oftentimes spells disaster. Remember that one of the arguments for legalized abortion is to correct unplanned pregnancies. Every woman I've talked to going in for an abortion at our local Planned Barrenhood clinic told me that they were on the pill when they got pregnant. Planned Parenthood affiliate AGI (Alan Gutemacher Institute) reports on their website that about 60% of the abortions they do are on women who were on the pill when they got pregnant. Pope John Paul II addressed the anthropological and moral differences between artificial birth control and Natural Family Planning in Familiaris Consortio The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self-control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion? and to live personal love, with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension and is never used as an object that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God's creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person (No. 32). I hope this helps to answer your questions. John Miskell Back to Index Page

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