Abortive Contraception

I placed this in Moral Theology; I wasn’t quite sure which category it best fit. Please move if it should go elsewhere.

I think a high percentage of practicing Catholics do a good job decrying the evils of abortion. However, I think a vast category is ignored or swept under the rug.

Per the Catechism (366) and most of the moral theologians I’ve read, the soul is created immediately upon conception. The Church teaches us about the evils of contraception as birth control.

I do not think many people realize that many form of contraception which prevent the newly conceived embryo from full planting are literally killing an unborn person. I read a comment from a priest who said that it is estimated that for every one abortion (as we think of them), perhaps 10 unborn children are killed at the very earliest stages of infancy…within a few hours or days of conception. Of course only God knows the true numbers, but if it is 1 time or 5 times or 10 times the number of later stage abortions, this number is huge.

As we know many people (including Catholics) use these post conception abortive measures. The majority of priests I have heard haven’t mentioned this aspect of contraception…humans only a few minutes or hours or days into their development are snuffed out.

Any thoughts? The more and more I’ve thought about these tiniest human beings, I feel they are forgotten and I’ve been personally touched to offer up rosaries for them…because it seems like they are forgotten…and their numbers are huge. As a side note, how many people are literally breaking the 5th Commandment by killing their unborn child? I shudder to think of the repercussions on our souls.


If you search this forum for “abortifacient” or “Plan B”, you will find many threads on the topic.

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Life begins at conception.

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many Catholics ignore the post conception effects of contraception, but it is only because, education and medecine hide this true… And they make the same choice as the general population. These uneducated Catholics are often the same that are more or less indifferents to abortions…

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I’ve heard from multiple sources, that the pill has three mechanisms for preventing conception, and the third and final preventative measure is to prevent implantation. So in that sense the pill itself may also be abortifacient.


Objectively yes, but to incur guilt of a mortal sin, full knowledge is necessary, and as you say “I do not think many people realize …”

And those women who are told that it isn’t a baby until it implants into the lining of the womb and can begin to grow - by their doctors? How do you assign their guilt?

But none of this lessens in any way the horror of what these pills do. More and greater education is needed, but unless one has a Catholic doctor who informs his Catholic patients of this, then how is one to know? And if she is suspicious and asks her doctor and is told :arrow_up:, and doesn’t know the Church teaching of a soul at time of conception, and there are an awful lot of Catholics who haven’t been well catechized on the Churchs’ teaching … then?

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A billion prenatals die every three years.

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Thanks for the replies…I’m just surprised that I don’t hear more about the evils of contraception for when the unborn are less than a few weeks old. It seems to me we as a Church do much better for the active known killing of later stage abortion than we do for not-as known killing of unborn children at the earliest stages of life. Sadly I think this is because a higher percentage of Catholics (and even some clergy) do not feel that contraception is wrong.

LittleFlower378, thank you for this link…it is great to see some actual numbers and information.

This is a massive, and I do mean massive, problem in the Church, and for whatever reason, we rarely if ever hear of it from the pulpit. Many women (and by extension their families) have become reliant upon methods of contraception that can be abortifacient — reliable contraception makes it possible for the wife to have a career, for the family to be financially prosperous, and so on. Would they be willing to adopt methods that, at the very least, have no abortifacient possibility (condoms, etc.)? They would still commit the sin of contraception, but it would be by far the lesser of two evils.

One wonders…

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Contraception is intrinsically evil. There is no “lesser”.

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True, it is intrinsically evil, I do not dispute that. I simply meant that abortifacient contraception contains two intrinsically evil mortal sins — the possibility of abortion, and the contraception itself. Non-abortifacient contraception is simply contraception. Thus, non-abortifacient contraception is the lesser of these two evils.


is not a sin.

Actual abortion is a sin. RU486 use is a sin. Chemical/medical abortions are sins.

Ibuprophen can cause very early miscarriages. If I were to take ibuprofen hoping it would cause me to lose a pregnancy, that would be sinful.

Contraception is sin. Period.

I would have to differ with you on this. Case in point: I like to shoot for recreation. If I shoot at a target, I have to know with certainty that no one is behind it. I can’t merely say “oh, it’s highly unlikely that there is anybody back there”. I have to know for sure. Similarly, if I am hunting (I do not hunt, but if I did), I cannot hear a sound in the bush and say “that’s probably a deer”. It could be a person. I have to be sure it is not.

I did not know that. I would have to recommend, then, that women who might possibly be pregnant (i.e., having marital relations that are potentially fertile) take something other than ibuprofen.

This list of things that can cause early miscarriages is pretty mind boggling.

Target shooting and taking a hormonal contraceptive are very different things. You are 100% certain that if your bullet hits a living body it will cause damage. This is not the case for those taking a hormonal contraceptive.

This comes up when women are on hormonal medications to treat illness, some try to convince these women that they must abstain from valid marital relations due to the potential that it might prevent implantation of an embryo. The Church does not teach this.

I can be 100% certain that if there is a fertilized embryo who has gotten past all obstacles to its conception, and is in search of a uterine wall to attach itself to, that embryo will die if that uterine wall has been made hostile to implantation by the contraceptive method being used.

I would welcome a solemn teaching of the magisterium as to “where we draw the line” on a potentially pregnant woman (i.e., sexually active and not infertile) being obliged to refrain from this medication or that, lest she endanger the unborn child that possibly exists. Even in such a scenario, though, the Church could not possibly come up with a pharmacopeia that says “this medicine’s OK, that medicine’s not OK”. Ultimately it would have to be prudential judgement, informed by possibly the woman’s doctor or her own independent research. Online drug information sites are extraordinarily helpful.

I completely disagree.

Yes, Contraception is always a sin.
But many of us know that some birth control methods may interefer with the implantation of an embryo. It is of much more serious issue than only preventing the union of the gametes.

There is a difference by using a medication for an illness that may harm an embryo if we don’t knwo that we are pregnant, or don’t know the harm this medication may cause and use a drug/device of “contraception” that can cause an early abortion because of the will to not become pregnant.


To make sure I’m clear…if taking a contraceptive, a woman is committing a sin for frustrating the natural process of conception (is that a good way to put it?) but if she conceives and the baby is lost, she didn’t commit the sin of abortion because that was not her intent? She intended to contracept but not abort? Whereas RU 486 is taken with the intent to abort.

Thanks for your answers!

Please, consider that when the little Lady compared ibuprofen and contraception that may impact the implantation of an embryo, she only gives her feelings, not a definitive answer.

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