If a married woman is told by her doctors that there is NO WAY that she can carry a baby to term without having serious, probably fatal, complications for both mother and baby, is it then permissible to have a hysterectomy or some other form of permanent birth prevention?
I realise NFP can become fairly reliable, even to as much as 98%, and I realise that in principle the marital act should always be open to procreation, but we are also not supposed to do anything that puts us or others (i.e. an unborn baby) at risk. If it was already known that the procreative good was defective in this case, and would lead to an increase of death, not life, surely it would be irresponsible and perhaps even sinful to engage in it.
If it’s not permissible to do this, then a married couple in that situation have only 3 options:
a) celebacy, which, by definition, isn’t proper to marriage.
b) the constant guilt of knowing that they have sinned in cutting off the procreative good.
c) the constant fear of not knowing whether NFP will fail at some point, and the risk that every time they make love the husband may be killing his wife and unborn child.
Of course, miracles can happen, and doctors can be wrong, but I don’t drive around without my seat-belt on just because God could send a miracle to save my life in a crash.
If I had an incurable problem with my hand so that every time I moved it the disease could kill me, I’d have the right to have the hand amputated, to avoid the risk of ever moving it. Surely this is the same? Does the doctrine of double effect apply?
After all, there are other ways that a married couple can express the creative good of their union, such as by adopting or becoming foster carers.