Does marital rape justify contraception?

I recently found myself defending the Church’s position on birth control to an agnostic. This gentleman brought up something I had never heard before, as a “reason” to permit contraception. He said that there are many women in Muslim countries, for example, who are forced to have intercourse by their husbands, and that if they don’t, they will be abused (e.g., acid thrown at their face, beaten, etc.). He then followed up by stating that these abused, usually poverty-stricken women are then expected to take care of “fourteen children” on their own, etc., etc.

This extreme example kind of threw me off for a second, and I’m not sure I was able to adequately respond, since I didn’t want to appear too “insensitive” to their plight. How would you recommend responding in this situation?

[quote=ReadJohn6]How would you recommend responding in this situation?

By pointing out three things:

[list]First, your friend is trying to use a “worst-case scenario” as the basis for a general norm. Even were the Church to grant exemptions – and even in such tragic cases as this, it would not permit artificial contraception – it would not leap from granting individual exemptions to giving blanket permission. Besides, the exemption idea doesn’t work. When artificial contraception within marriage was first introduced within Christian circles as permissible, it was supposed to be used only in the “worst-case scenarios.” As we can see from modern Christian history, outside of the Catholic Church, Christian churches have gone from granting exemptions to permitting artificial contraception almost without exception.[/list]

[list]Second, allowing artificial contraception within marriage for abused women is more likely to create greater contempt for them rather than less. As the husband no longer has to worry about yet another child because his wife is infertile, he is free to become even more sexually demanding and selfish. What incentive he may have had to refrain – such as financial responsibility and an indisposed pregnant wife – are now gone with the woman’s temporary or permanent infertility.[/list]

[list]Finally, you might ask how it can possibly be sensitive to abused women to suggest that they accommodate themselves and their bodies to further abuse, rather than requiring, through force of law or social pressure, that their abusers change their behavior toward their wives. Surely what is needed to address such tragedies is not condoms or birth control pills but education and legal reform within a society and/or international sanctions against an offending society from outside of it.[/list]

**Recommended reading:

That Celibate Bachelor Was Right!** by Rachel Fay

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit