Is Artificial Contraception Always Seriously Sinful?

An article by Victor R. Claveau, MJ

Artificial contraception

The short answer is yes. There is unity in marriage, which that can only be broken by contraception. As the Church teaches, God established Marriage as a sacrament. As such, all marital relations are sacred acts. Why? Because God is personally involved. When the sperm and egg are joined God infuses a soul and a living human being is created. When we artificially contracept, we cut God out of the picture and sexual relations become profane.

Consider also the abortifacient nature of the pill. I can understand a person’s desire not to bring another child into the world for justifiable reasons but are you and your spouse willing to take the chance of aborting one of your children. You did not state what method of contraception you are using, so I will assume it to be the pill since it is considered by many to be the “safest.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood published the following information and statistics. But before I begin, let’s review the purpose of the birth control pill.

The pill has three purposes, first, to prevent ovulation; second, to increase the cervical mucus in order to make it more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg; third, to make the womb a hostile environment so that in the eventuality the sperm completes its journey and fertilizes the egg the new life will not be able to attach itself to the wall of the womb and so is expelled from the body.

According to Emory University’s Contraceptive Technology, “The first-year failure rates among typical users (of oral contraceptives) as observed in real world use are estimated to be 8%…This means that 1 woman in 12 will become pregnant in the first year of OC use.” Because the third mechanism of the Pill alters the lining of the uterus, the fertilized egg will not be able to implant, and will be expelled from the mother’s body.

Another recognized study estimated that “OCs have a breakthrough ovulation rate of between 2 to 10%. 1 Using these estimates”, Dr. Bogomir M. Kohar, calculated “a 2% ovulation rate yields 2,000,000 ovulatory cycles. It is also known that in any given cycle, there is a 25% overall conception rate for ‘normally fertile couples of average sexual activity.’ 2 Multiplying the two yields a result of 50,000 chemical abortions per cycle or 600,000 per annum. A 10% rate yields 1,000,000 ovulatory cycles multiplied by the 25% conception rate for a resulting 250,000 chemical abortions per cycle or 3,000,000 per annum. Thus we have a range of 600,000 to 3 million chemical abortions per annum in the USA based on 1996 usage of OCs.” 3 According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 62% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 (37,820,000 million) use OCs as their primary method of birth control. 4 Using these figures, it means that a woman using OCs has a between .05 and 25.6% chance of chemically aborting at least one child per year. Although this might seem to be a small percentage risk, over time the likelihood is great. Moreover, there really is no such thing as a ‘negligible’ risk of aborting a baby. In this case, any risk is too great.

Many women who would never consider a surgical abortion now use low-dose birth control pills. In his book, The Facts of Life: An Authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues, Dr. Brian Clowes explains how a large number of women who identify themselves as pro-life use these pills:

This means that ‘pro-life’ women who are using an oral contraceptive, or some other means of abortifacient birth control, are committing abortions themselves on a frequent basis. These abortions are “silent” and unseen, but they are no less abortions in the eyes of God than are gruesome third-trimester D&X (partial birth) abortions. There are many ‘pro-lifers’ who are using these pills and who are involved in their promotion and distribution. These people must consider whether they can, in good conscience, criticize women whose action differs from their own only in that they have to drive to a ‘clinic’ (mill) to commit it.” 5

Most of these couples had never heard this information before, and for some the enormity of the possibility of having aborted one or more children while on the pill was absolutely stunning.

Additionally, contraception destroys the unitive aspect of sexual intercourse. Marital relations are God’s way of unifying a couple in the most intimate way. Two become one. Why is it that a marriage is not considered to be legal or canonically binding until it is consummated?

As a Catholic bookstore owner, for fourteen years, I would estimate that about 40% of my customers were men. On occasion, many were very open about their spirituality. Eleven of these men had had a vasectomy and one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. There was a common thread among the lives of these men. Each of them told me, in almost the same words, that since the operations they could no longer get close to their wives during marital relations. They explain that although performance is not the issue, something was decidedly missing. That something is the unitive aspect of the marital act, in short; what is missing is God’s involvement. When God is cut out of the marital act it becomes profane. Why destroy this most wonderful gift of God? All sexual intercourse must be open to life; otherwise it is a sinful act.

Please investigate Natural Family Planning. It is safe and most effective. If you have legitimate reasons for not being open to having another child at this time in your lives then NFP is the way to go.  The only other alternative is abstinence.

Sexual intercourse outside of marriage and artificial contraception within marriage is a mortal sin. When a couple artificially contracepts, they cut themselves of from God and the sanctifying grace that comes with the worthy reception of the sacraments. Married life can be difficult at times and we need all the help from God that we can get. I have spoken to a number of divorcees that said that the beginning of the downward slope of their marriage was when they began contracepting.

Cutting ourselves off from the sacraments is not the way to strengthen a relationship. Finally, and most importantly, your immortal souls are in jeopardy. I beg you, consult with your pastor and enroll in an NFP class.

Victor R. Claveau, MJ

  1. Peel J and Potts M, Textbook and contraceptive technology, pp 98090, (1964), Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Kippley, JF. The Pill and Early Abortion. ALL About Issues. 1989; 4:22-23/
  3. Kumar et al.; “Infant Homicides through Contraceptives”; International Pharmacists for Life; 5 th edition, 2003, pp.
  4. CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Press Release, Teens Delaying Sexual Activity; Using Contraception
    More Effectively, December 10, 2004.
  5. Brian Clowes, Ph.D., The Facts of Life: An Authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues, Human Life
    International, (pp. 74-75).








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