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For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Contraception is the practice of reducing the likelihood that coitus will result in procreation. No form of contraception entirely removes this possibility.

Some religious denominations - notably the Catholic Church - regard contraception as immoral, claiming that it contradicts God's commandments to "Go forth and multiply." Genesis 9:7 Bible-icon.png This has lead to controversial announcements in opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa and to lift from the impoverished the curse of progeny whom they cannot support.



Judaism allows for certain types of contraception that do not "waste the seed" of male ejaculation. [1] This is based on the story of Onan and coitus interruptus:

"And Onan knew that the seed would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did was evil in the sight of Jehovah: and he slew him also."

Genesis 38:9-10 Bible-icon.png

Christian views

For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:

Christian views are often shaped by the idea that the primary purpose of sex is procreation.


There is a diversity of views on contraception within protestantism, ranging from acceptance to strong opposition. A major shift in Anglican views occurred in the 1930 Lambeth Conference:

"Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. [2]"

This was the start of a general shift of other mainstream protestant denominations towards acceptance of contraception.


The only permitted form of contraception allowed in Catholicism are calendar based methods, such as the rhythm method or natural family planning (NFP).

"If there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained…. When the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love. [3]"
"The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. [4]"

If calendar based contraception is effective, there is no logical reason for it to be treated differently from other contraceptive methods. If Calendar-based contraception is not effective, the church should not be recommending it as a method of contraceptive. However, the church only permits sex if a child is wanted at some point in the future, so some failures would lead to an earlier than desired but not an unwanted pregnancy. Evidence suggests that this method is 75% effective over the course of one year, which is worse than most other contraceptive methods. [5] Effectively, the church has a different idea of what a contraceptive should be: calendar-based contraception is allowed because it is unreliable! The church justifies NFP based on the naturalistic fallacy and dogma about being "open" to life.

"In the first case, one does something (takes a pill, uses a condom, etc.) to deliberately "close" the life-giving power of sexual intercourse. In NFP, however, no such step is taken. The spouses do not act against their fertility. [6]"

The church has undermined efforts to encourage the use of condoms by spreading misinformation. [7]

Criticism of Christian views

Calendar-based contraceptive methods are murder

The some denominations, such as the Catholic church, consider calendar-based methods, which includes the rhythm method and NFP, to be an acceptable form of contraception. It is the only form of contraception if church teachings are followed and is often practised despite its unreliability.

"The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. [8]"

The rhythm method produces fertilized embryos that are incapable of surviving because the uterus is not in a state that makes embryo implanting likely. [9] This causes a high likelyhood that the embryo will be aborted as part of the menstrual cycle. The likelihood of embryo death is higher with calendar methods than some other contraceptive methods. By their own logic, this makes the church's support of calendar-based contraception the same as calling for the murder of embryos!

"Some proponents of the pro-life movement argue against morning after pills, IUDs, and contraceptive pills on grounds of a concern for causing embryonic death. What has gone unnoticed, however, is that the pro-life line of argumentation can be extended to the rhythm method of contraception as well. Given certain plausible empirical assumptions, the rhythm method may well be responsible for a much higher number of embryonic deaths than some other contraceptive techniques. [10]"

Ultimately, this illustrates that "pro-life" Christians are not really concerned with embryo death but use this reasoning as an ad hoc justification for their arbitrary beliefs about abortion and contraception.

Pro-life views

Pro-life views about abortion are often associated with religious and particularly Christian beliefs. In contrast, pro-choice is associated with atheism [11], although there are a minority of pro-life atheists. The pro-life movement generally opposes contraception. [12]

Hormonal birth control occasionally causes abortions

For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

According to pro-life sources, hormonal birth control, which includes the pill, emergency contraception and IUDs, occasionally causes abortions because ovulation still occasionally occurs. However, hormonal birth control may also change the womb wall so that the embryo cannot not implant itself. For this reason, pro-lifers consider hormonal birth control to be an abortifacient - a substance that causes an abortion.

"The bottom line, then, for the commonly used contraceptive pill is this: In 97 or 98% of the time, the effect is one of preventing pregnancy. But, in perhaps two or more percent of the time, the effect is abortifacient. There is no way in the normal clinical practice of obstetrics of knowing which is happening, or when. [13]"

Many medical authorities define the start of pregnancy, and indeed life, as at the point of implantation. [14] For this reason, hormonal birth control does not cause abortions. Pro-lifers disagree and consider life to begin with fertilization.

Scientists are still trying to understand if hormonal birth control changes the chances of implantation. The evidence is ambiguous at this stage and the thickness of the lining may or may not change the implantation probability. [15]

Condoms are ineffective

Pro-life groups claim that condoms are ineffective at preventing pregnancy and preventing the spread of STDs. [16] Similar claims are made by the Catholic church. [7]

Medical practitioners do not claim that condoms are 100% effective. Critics of condoms seem to demand a solution must be perfect to be acceptable; however, this commits the nirvana fallacy. Doctors do claim that condoms are very effective (but not perfect).

"STDs are very tiny organisms, minuscule in size compared to sperm. These super-small viruses can get through a hole in a condom much more easily than sperm can. For example, HIV (the AIDS-causing virus) is so small that two million of the disease-causing agents could crowd on the period at the end of a sentence. In 1993 the University of Texas analyzed the results of 11 different studies that had tracked the effectiveness of condoms to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus. The average condom failure rate in the 11 studies for preventing transmission of the AIDS virus was 31%.[16]"

This probably refers to Weller's 1993 paper, which cautions the reader to treat the results as tentative. [17] A 1999 meta-analysis by the same author had a more optimistic result:

"Generally, the condom's effectiveness at preventing HIV transmission is estimated to be 87%, but it may be as low as 60% or as high as 96%. [...] Consistent use of condoms provides protection from HIV. The level of protection approximates 87%[18]"

United States

The Affordable Care Act originally mandated that non-religious organisations that provide health insurance to employees must include contraception. In 2014, the supreme court ruled that "closely held" family controlled corporations may choose to deny provision of contraceptions under health insurance provided to employees on the grounds of religious freedom. The dissenting supreme court judges wrote:

"In a decision of startling breadth, the court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law ... they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs [19]"

Companies that are largely owned by non-managing shareholders are still required to provide contraception under the Affordable Care Act. Religious organisations are already exempt from the law.


Muhammad was said to be aware of his followers' use of contraception (coitus interruptus). He did not forbid the practice, therefore contraception is generally considered to be allowed by Muslims. [20] [21] However, sterilization is generally not allowed by Islam. Reasons for using contraception include spacing pregnancies, prevention of disease, protection of heath or if the family is too poor to support more children. [22]

Medical views

The correct use of condoms is effective at greatly reducing the risk of infection by a variety of STDs. [23] However, there is some evidence that HIV infection is not prevented by promoting the use of contraception, partly because people using contraception may perform riskier sexual acts. [24]


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. 7.0 7.1 [7]
  8. [8]
  9. [9]
  10. [10]
  11. [11]
  12. [12]
  13. [13]
  14. [14]
  15. [15]
  16. 16.0 16.1 [16]
  17. Weller SC, A meta-analysis of condom effectiveness in reducing sexually transmitted HIV, Soc Sci Med. 1993 Jun, 36(12):1635-44.
  18. Karen R. Davis and Susan C. Weller, The Effectiveness of Condoms in Reducing Heterosexual Transmission of HIV, Family Planning Perspectives, 1999, 31(6):272-279
  19. Lawrence Hurley, U.S. justices uphold firms' religious objections to contraception, Jun 30, 2014
  20. [17]
  21. [18]
  22. [19]
  23. [20]
  24. [21]

See also

v · d Religion and society
Politics and law   Code of Hammurabi · Blasphemy laws · Separation of church and state · Theocracy · Gay marriage · Territorial claims
Social issues   Abortion · Adultery · Child abuse · Contraception · Fornication · Halloween · Homosexuality · Masturbation · Misogyny · Pornography · Proselytizing · Ritual slaughter · Right to die · Religious clothing · Religious test · School prayer
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