Church teaching on the relationship between abortion and contraception

Again and again I hear people ridicule the church’s teaching on contraception because “It’s not the same as abortion.”

And I’m over here saying “yes, obviously not. And we don’t believe that.”

Has the church ever taught that these two sins have anything to do with one another? Have we ever taught that contraception is murder? Since I’ll assume not, where does this lie come from?

There is a connection, but the logic behind is different.

Some contraceptives are actually abortifacients.

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I get that the theology of the body all fits together as a coherent whole. I’m talking about the sort of equivalency between the two many accuse us of.

Yeah, I know that. But do we say the contraception itself is abortion? I think not. It’s a contraceptive (bad) that can even cause abortion (even worse).

No, they are morally distinct actions.

To abort is to end the life of a child in the womb.

To contracept is to change the ordering of the marital act such that it is no longer capable of being procreative.

While one might take a drug that can be used to contracept in order to abort, the moral object and the intention are different. The means by which it is done is the same, but the act itself is a different one. We have to get over thinking of “contraception” as a physical thing; it is rather an action or a behavior that sometimes uses physical things in order to be brought about. The Pill is morally neutral. It is simply a pill. It doesn’t do anything good or bad of itself. It just sits there. If it’s used for something though, it can be used for good (some medical conditions require the use of hormones to treat them), but it can also be used for evil (to change the ordering of the marital act).



I’m going to have to say that it’s an incorrect assumption that they came up with. Most likely they are ignorant on this particular topic.

Thanks for the reply. I suppose my question isn’t about the issue itself. I at least think I understand it pretty well.

My question really comes down to: Why do you think people have this impression? Did the church ever teach this? Was it a common way of explaining things for undilligent teachers? Or is it just a lie to strawman us.

I don’t know why “people” have any impressions that they have. You’d have to ask them. I’ve not encountered this as a broad-based phenomenon, whether among Catholics or non-Catholics. More often, people perceive that the Church has rules against abortion and contraception, or a ban on them, with no real clue as to what lay behind the “rules.” Most people don’t seem to think about it more deeply than that or more positively than that; the real answer is that both are wrong because they are contrary to the dignity of the human person.

I’m not sure the Church ever taught that they were the same, because that would be silly. They are clearly not the same. They are clearly born of the same mentality which is contrary to God’s design for human procreation, but they are not the same action, and I don’t know why it would have ever been taught that way.

Can you point to anyone saying that the Church has taught that abortion and contraception are the same thing? Otherwise, what you’re doing is to set up a strawman yourself.

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Sure. What triggered this post was this interview of Christopher Hitchens (go to 4:45 for context):

Before my conversion I had somehow picked up this idea myself (I’ve always been pro life but didn’t think contraception was a sin until shortly before converting). I’ve heard if from family since my conversion. And if Hitchens was spouting it you know his internet tough guy fanboys are too.

Asking people where they got something from isn’t always helpful. If it we’re I could tell you where it comes from myself. But here we are. Ignorance can be like one big game of telephone.

I think you’ve hit on it though. Hitchens and his fanboys are spouting it, and so it’s a strawman. The burden of proof is on anyone making that claim to show that the Church has, in fact, taught that abortion and contraception are the same thing. That you can show that it is not puts the lie to the claim.

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I suppose so. Thanks. I guess I just needed verification before getting upset about this. They have no excuse.

Also I just realized I said I’d always been pro choice that’s the opposite of the truth, lol. I’ll go edit that before it’s on the internet forever. But thought I’d make a note here too.

What about morning-after pill/Plan B? Is that classed as a contraceptive or abortion? In the secular world,it’s viewed as a contraception.

In discussions on church teachings, I’ve seen it mentioned as both.

Gently, respectfully, an ocean of Catholics actually think they’re very closely related. The pill theoretically could prevent attachment of a fertilized ovum - which is treated as an abortion, even as the idea of the pill is to have no ovum in the first place.

Proliferation of the idea is absolutely perpetuated by Catholics (notice the slight push-back you’ve gotten from a few of your coreligionists?) as much as by secular sources.

I agree with you that they are wrong.

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Some forms of contraception are abortive in nature. For instance, if a pill causes a zygote to dissolve after it is formed then it would be morally the same as abortion.

JPII said contraception & abortion were linked in response to the claim that contraception would reduce abortion. He didn’t back up his statment with any facts & could’ve just said ‘don’t do evil (contraception) so good(no abortion) will result.’
The only link that there seems to be is that abortion is usually used as a form of birth control.
If assault causing miscarriage is classified as abortion, then there is often no link between abortion and contraception.

Whilst with the exception of contraceptives which cause early abortion they two are different they are directly related in terms of mindset and morality.

Primarily, the “link” I’ve heard between contraception and abortion is this: couples using contraception are often having sexual relations when they are completely unprepared/unwilling to become parents because they “can’t get pregnant”. Therefore, if and when contraception fails, that pregnancy is a “disaster” and then an abortion “has to be” done.

Outside of the abortion link, the main take a way for me from Church teaching is that contraception not only is a “no” to the will of God, it is a disrespect of the gift of fertility. In respecting the fertility of the woman, the couple is approaching sexuality as a thing to be respected and embraced as both fully unitive AND procreative.

I’m not explaining it right, but hopefully a little of what I’m trying to say is intelligible :wink:


I agree with these people. They aren’t expressing the view pushed on us. This is only one form of contraception. They are missing my point and I suspect they would still affirm that the contraception as such is not abortion.

Hitchens said in a video I linked elsewhere that we think a handjob is genocide. Nobody here is saying that.

To go with a purely secular source, in 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, Rowe was reaffirmed. In fact the decision clearly stated

(e) The Roe rule’s limitation on state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.

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