Concise Roman Catholic Medical Ethics

edition 2014 by J.A. Raymakers, MD PhD

2.1.8 Contraception

Contraception is any act or method that intentionally renders the marital act unfruitful, regardless of the means. It comprises the use of a condom, interrupted coition, oral contraception and, in the broader sense, all pharmacological and mechanical means that render impossible or undo the nidation of an already formed embryo in the mucosal lining of the uterus. Among the latter are the ‘morning after pill’, intrauterine device (IUD), so-called overdue treatment and curettage.

2.1.9 Rejection of contraception by the Church

It is the judgment of the Church that the separation of the marital act from its intrinsic purpose, is against the nature of man and thus against God’s intention. Moreover, the marital act is an ultimate expression of love of the spouses, where they give themselves to each other completely, including fertility and every other capacity. To exclude fertility by measures of temporary or permanent sterilization of one or both of the spouses (condom, contraceptive pill, intrauterine device, and sterilization) inflicts damage to this gift of self in an essential way.

2.1.10 Other moral objections to contraceptive methods

All objections as to their intrinsic morality are connected with the abortive action of the methods. The so-called overdue treatment, the ’morning after pill’, the intrauterine device all provide an inhibition to the nidation of the embryo that was formed by conception into the mucosal lining of the uterus. Even the usual oral contraceptives potentially have this effect, when inhibition of ovulation is unsuccessful (at low estrogen dosage). Apart from this the combination pills make the cervical mucus less penetrable to sperm cells.

2.1.11 Condemnation of artificial methods of procreation by the Church

Those methods, where conception is achieved outside the context of the union of man and wife in the marital act, are condemned by the Church because they degrade procreation to a business-like procedure (in the laboratory), where marital love plays no direct part.

This is why artificial insemination, all forms of in vitro fertilization, egg cell donation, cryopreservation of egg cells and surrogate motherhood are rejected.

2.1.12 The Church’s view on procreative methods outside marriage of a man and a woman

These are rejected by the Church because marriage between a man and a woman is the natural framework meant by God, where new human beings are to be born and can grow up.

Apart from this, the Church emphasises that every new human being presenting itself should be received with the same unconditional respect for its life and is entitled to the loving care of its parents.