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Stop Saying the Catholic Church Rejects “Birth Control”

Jessica Wissel
Special thanks to Jessica Wissel who shared this image on Flickr Creative Commons ! Check out her great work here

We reject contraception, abortion, and sterilization - and there’s a difference.

So if you are a woman taking hormones as medicine to treat a health problem, even if those hormones might have an otherwise unintended contraceptive side-effect, the Church has no problem with it.

And lastly, the Church wholly embraces natural means of regulating fertility, provided the couple is doing so for just reasons:

“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.” (
Humanae Vitae, 16)

Put in this more precise way, the Church’s teaching is actually much more sophisticated and nuanced than most people realize. No doubt, many people will still disagree with the Catholic position, but if we speak more precisely at least it will be more likely they disagree with the Church’s actual position, rather than some confused, straw-man notion of “birth control.”

Brantly Millegan is an Assistant Editor for Aleteia. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Second Nature, Co-Director of the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity, and is working on a M.A. in Theology at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. He lives with his wife and children in South St. Paul, MN. His personal website is

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