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Prolife Forum: Natural Family Planning

by Catherine Frakas 23 May 2002

Natural Family Planning QUESTION from Danielle on November 1, 2002 In one of your previous responses to questions regarding NFP, you said 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.
Can I ask, what is considered a serious reason to postpone pregnancy?
I get the impression it is only right to postpone if the mother is sick. Is it alright by the church if I postpone pregnancy because we don't consider ourselves financial enough? I don't quite understand, as part of our, my husband and I's pattern would mean that I would be pregnant immediately. Is it wrong for me to delay planning conception till six months time, when I would feel more ready financially, physically and emotionally?
I really feel that if I fall pregnant now, that my daughters won't get as much attention which I think they need.
I'm really being torn here. Do we not use nfp and get pregnant straight away, or do I delay it six months till we're a bit more stable? Is it alright if we delay it six months? Does the church have any specific laws regarding the way nfp is used?
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on November 20, 2002 Dear Danielle:
Thank you for your question. Unfortunately the failure of local priests (and others responsible for explaining Church teachings to the faithful) to adequately teach on the subject of Natural Family Planning leads to misconceptions (pardon the pun) like yours. Their fear of teaching the truth about contraception leaves many Catholics who are trying to live the teachings of the Church without guidance.
Those who want to belittle the Church's teachings try to claim that the Church will only allow you to delay pregnancy for very extreme reasons. If they can get you to believe that, then their attempts to make the Church's teachings seem unreasonable and oppressive are likely to succeed.
In Dr. Janet Smith's translation of Humanae Vitae: A Challenge to Love (available from New Hope Productions at (270)325-3061), her commentary explores the issue of serious or grave reasons for delaying or avoiding pregnancy during marraige. Her view -- which is entirely consistent with the Church's traditional teaching -- is that the word grave is too strong of a translation and serious or non-trivial is more appropriate.
For example: If you and your husband wanted to wait six months to get pregnant because you expect to be able to pay off a debts or move into a home with more room for a baby, that could be a moral reason. If you wanted to wait because you were saving money to buy a luxury boat, it probably would not be morally acceptable.
The important thing is that the reasons be thought out, in line with other Catholic moral and social teachings, and not self-centered. Perpetual avoidance of pregnancy because you want to have a fulfilling career and children would only get in the way would be a self-centered reason that would conflict with the purposes of marriage. Delaying another pregnancy because you are currently overwhelmed with raising the children you have can be a non-trivial reason. Prayerfully evaluating the reasons for waiting is the most valuable tool you have in discernment.
Of course, the most important thing is your attitude towards another child should you become pregnant. But I am sure by the tone of your questions that you would lovingly welcome any new life into your home as an expression of the love between you and your husband.
Pax Christi, Troy
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