Disclaimer: I will admit to being an overly-scrupulous person who is paranoid about the slightest infraction against the Church’s teaching. That being said, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts (provided they are rational, not emotional) on this issue.
My wife takes a low-level medication that is typically used for the purpose of contraception in order to cope with several medical issues. To reiterate: The purpose of the medication is to treat a medical condition, NOT to prevent pregnancy. The question I pose is this: Can a married woman taking medication that is typically prescribed to prevent pregnancy engage in sexual relations with her husband while she is taking that medication?
The default response on this forum (by several apologists, citing the medical reasons clause in Humanae Vitae seems to be that a married couple is not obligated to abstain if the wife is taking “birth control” pills to treat a medical condition. However, a search across the Internet reveals a plethora of opinions—some from respected sources, others from uneducated speculation—that both agree and disagree with the consensus on this forum. The apologists on this forum cite the principle of double effect to justify their response. Those who argue against allowing married couples in this circumstance to engage in sexual relations contend that double effect does not apply, or is being incorrectly applied by supporters.
I subtitled this post “A plea for clarity” because I am completely confused and frustrated. My confessor reassures me that my wife and I are not sinning, but I have also heard stories of priests arguing the opposite. In addition, I found a pamphlet online from the Diocese of Madison (WI) that states that a married couple MUST abstain if the wife is taking “birth control” pills because of the abortifacient nature of the drug. The apologists on this forum, however, contend that it is incorrect to call a terminated pregnancy in this circumstance an “abortion” because an abortion must be specifically intended; they call the potential loss of human life a “miscarriage.” Add to that the fact that miscarriages can be caused by any number of things (including other medications!) and I am at a complete loss. Not to mention the fact that a married couple is still obligated to pay the marital debt, according to Church teaching, so total abstention seems to run counter to Church teaching as well.
I apologize for the long, rambling post, but I am at my wit’s end trying to discern the Church’s teaching on this issue, considering that there is no official Church declaration on this specific manner. Any thoughts (please no arguing about whether or not the medication is even needed) that are reasonable and well-articulated would be greatly appreciated.