Is ABC ever permissable

There is a family at the local SSPX Church with 15 children. The mother looks very tired and she is pregnant again. I know that artificial birth control is a mortal sin, but are there exceptions? I mean, suppose that the doctor advised her not to have any more children because of health reasons, and he prescribed a contraceptive pill. Further, suppose that the rhythym method or NFP does not work for her. Would it be a mortal sin for her to have this prescription filled and use ABC in order to preserve her health and be able to take care of her 15 children? It seems somewhat harsh to send such a person to eternal damnation in hell after she has raised 15 children and done her best for her family and her children. After all, how many Catholic families have only two children? Why condemn such a person as this saintly lady if she decides that 15 children is as much as she can handle and she follows the advice of her doctor.

Tom you will find no writing by the Magisterium that says use of contraceptive devices is a mortal sin.

The Church teaches that contraceptive human acts (as opposed to sleep walking) are intrinsically evil.

So you have confused mortal sin with grave matter (sometimes called grave sin).
And also a human act (which is not seen but inferred) with a visible action (eg coitus with a condom).

Very understandable, complex Catholic theology/philosophy lies behind these apparantly innocent words transliterated from very technical Church Latin.

So it is not a mortal sin for her to use ABC and prevent the birth of any future children?

Boy has the Church got a wake-up call for you.

My God. My God. My sweet and merciful God. Why do you give people over to such blatant ignorance and laziness?

Ever hear of Humanae Vitae???

The Church teaches that contraceptive human acts (as opposed to sleep walking) are intrinsically evil.

That’s the same damned thing!

There are three criteria for committing a mortal sin: 1) It must be grave matter (contraception is CLEARLY grave matter - in that respect you are correct), 2) the parties involved must know it is grave matter, and 3) the parties involved must have full consent of the will (i.e, they must not be forced to do it by a gunman or force of habit or the demonic or psychological illness or somesuchthing).

If any couple uses ABC knowing 2) and having 3), they have committed a mortal sin.

What you are inferring here is not Church teaching.

It is. That is true Church teaching.

There are ways (NFP) for a couple to space their children that is licit, and does not disobey Church teaching. It requires prayer and cooperation. Many do not want to obey this because it is difficult, but with the Lord all things are possible.
The reason for spacing birth of children needs to be legitimate, as it is with that woman you described.

Dear Tomdstone,

Good question. I think there are a couple of issues here.

First of all, I think the term “artificial birth control” confuses things a little. The issue does not hinge on whether the acts in question are aided by a man-made device or not, but on whether or not they deliberately impede conception. I prefer to call it “contraception” (without qualifying it).

In any case, contraception is intrinsically immoral (see the number 2370*Catechism * for a definition), and hence there are no exceptions.

That doctor would be in his rights to advise her not to have any more children, but he should direct her to use methods that are morally OK. We should keep in mind that natural family planning does not use the “rhythm method,” but instead takes advantage of the latest advances in science to help couples know when the woman is fertile. This knowledge can be used either to prevent pregnancy or to foster it.

In fact, a couple that carefully and conscientiously applies natural family planning in order to prevent pregnancy has a lower chance of pregnancy than one relying on chemical or physical contraceptives. (I usually explain it as follows: if you use contraceptives, you are relying on the pill to keep you from being pregnant; if you use natural family planning, you get to decide if you want to be pregnant or not.)

(Have a look at thebillingsovulationmethod.org/ or creightonmodel.com/ for for information on NFP.)

The problem does not lie in limiting the number of births, per se, but in the means applied to do so.

As far as the state of the soul of the person in question, there is no question of condemning anyone :). What a person may subjectively decide to do is between him and God.

Remember, contraception hurts the persons who practice it; it is particularly dangerous for the health of marriages. The Church teaches what she does to avoid trouble for all concerned.

(Natural family planning, incidentally, is in general extremely helpful for fostering communication in a couple.)

Hope that answers your question! God bless.

Father Louis Melahn, L.C.

You may be curious to know why she doesn’t use NFP and, I suspect she, like most traddys despises its use. Natural is the way to go.

to the OP: you list your religion as other so how you do A) know this woman attends a SSPX church and has 15 children and B) know that she was given a prescription for conraceptives?

No, there is never a time when POISON (Which is what the PILL is, a poison) is permitted.

The pill is an abortifacient. It has the propensity to prevent a conceived life from attaching to the uterine wall.

Such situations are ALWAYS unique in their many details…Details that are never supplied in the scenarios for the simple reason that to do so would require writing a book instead of an internet posting.
Things you’ve left out are how this woman feels about having so many children…what is the role of the husband in all of this…etc…

Because these details cannot be known in sufficient detail on a public forum…and also because the function of a public forum is to provide public answers, we must state categorically that ABC is never permissible…

It seems somewhat harsh to send such a person to eternal damnation in hell after she has raised 15 children and done her best for her family and her children. After all, how many Catholic families have only two children? Why condemn such a person as this saintly lady if she decides that 15 children is as much as she can handle and she follows the advice of her doctor.

Your question here moves from the realm of the “law” and toward the idea of God’s mercy. It moves from the area of "normative teaching, to the needs of a given unique individual (or couple) in a given unique circumstance.
Here, I would simply make this observation. God granted His clergy the power or bind or loose sin…Confession, that is the sacrament of Reconciliation, is the place we go to discuss and deal with our sins and our struggles…
A person who finds themselves in the circumstance you outline here, needs to have the input and the guidance of a good regular confessor.

The Church’s teachings are firm and they are good. God’s mercy to those who seek to follow Him with all their heart is endless.

So - could a good confessor ever allow for an exception? Anything is possible…if the unique situation warrants it…
But I stress this above all…IF THE UNIQUE SITUATION WARRANTS IT…
and if it is seen (by Christ’s minister in confession / counseling) to be warranted…then it should not be discussed by the participants with anyone else so as to not cause confusion or sin by others.

I trust I have been sufficiently obtuse…

Peace
James

What’s missing here is a definition of mortal sin. Although (hopefully) Catholics know this by heart, you don’t identify your self as a Catholic so I will repeat it for clarity.

For something to be a MORTAL sin, it must meet three conditions.

  1. must be grave matter
  2. must be done with full knowledge
  3. must be done with full use of free will

in other words, as the nuns taught me - it must be wrong, you must know it’s wrong but you choose to do it anyway.

Using contraception is objectively wrong, its use is grave matter - so that covers #1

Virtually all practicing Catholics know that its wrong to use contraception - #2

In your example of prescription contraception, it’s unlikely that she would fill the prescription and/or take the drugs under force or coercion. If she is doing this of her own free will - #3

From the outside looking in, we only know about #1. It would very likely be a mortal sin for her to use contraception but because of the internal characteristic of #2 and #3, we don’t know for sure.

It’s not a healthy pastime to contemplate the degree of sinfulness of others activities.

You do not know her heart or mind by looking at her. I am sure she is tired some of the time, maybe all of the time. That does not mean she does not want the children she has or more children in the future.

No.

Then she should prudently follow her doctor’s advice after prayer and discernment.

I suspect she would not fill that prescription, since contraception is a moral evil. And she would probably find another doctor.

Well, NFP is not the rhythm method. So, you seem to be confused there.

But, if for whatever reason periodic abstinence using NFP is not an option, then complete abstinence is the option.

Yes.

We all have free will. If we use it to cut ourselves off from God through mortal sin, we are resonsible for that.

Seems you are making some assumptions and judgments. How many mobsters give money to the local underprivileged in an attempt to be seen as a local Robin Hood? Does that make their crime and mayhem justified? You are attempting to marry a good and an evil and say they are a “wash”. This is a serious error.

You are just being silly here. She need not sin to follow her doctor’s advice.

:nope: Please, this is so deeply misinformed. Please read Humanae Vitae before giving out advice on this matter.

[quote=1ke]You are just being silly here. She need not sin to follow her doctor’s advice.
[/quote]

:thumbsup: To the OP, there are perfectly moral ways to avoid pregnancy if it is necessary. I have a hunch that this clearly devout woman is well aware of what is within the realm of acceptable vs. non-acceptable per Church teaching. I would be pretty tired too if I had 15 children under my wing, but every night with my family and every week with my parish family I pray the words, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…” While this many children is unimaginable to you, it is very possible (if not likely) that the idea of contracepting is unimaginable to this woman.

The moral law does not change just because it becomes difficult to follow in certain circumstances. Might it effect her personal culpability if – in her exhaustion – she decides to go that route? Perhaps. But that does not make it acceptable.

I don’t know why people rule out abstinence in these types of scenarios. :shrug: If my wife was going through such a thing, I would happily abstain for the sake of her mental/physical health.

First of all I have my doubts that this is a real situation and not a fishing exercise, but I would like to point out that there is one form of birth control that works everytime and is approved by the Church- Abstinence.

The problem is that you present the situation with the assumption that everyone should be able to have sex without consequences. Which is a secular position, yet we are talking about religious people? Guess what? When people have sex they could get pregnant. This is the will of God and anything that trys to interfers with that is contrary to the will of God. If someone truely thinks they can’t handle another child then don’t have sex. Yes, Married couples can abstain from sex.

The situation you present is not a realistic one. If there truly is this haggard, run down, tired woman who can’t handle another child, But insists on adhering to Church teaching I seriously doubt she or her husband have the time, energy or desire to risk it.

The only permissible thing is when using a birth control pill as medication for a medical problem, such as a hormonal treatment for ovarian cysts. It is permitted, but not recommended, especially because of the chemicals used in the pills are classified by the FDA as a carcinogen in the same class as tobacco smoke.

My wife is currently having to take abc for medicinal reasons, but we’re going to be looking for alternatives when we have time to do so.

Great Replies Ike…:thumbsup:

:thumbsup:

I don’t know why people rule out abstinence in these types of scenarios. :shrug: If my wife was going through such a thing, I would happily abstain for the sake of her mental/physical health.

Your comment here brings up a VERY important aspect that is missing from the OP…The role of the husband in the situation which could range from, on the one hand, a devout Catholic husband who - with his wife - sees this large family as a gift from God, to at the other extreme, an atheist spouse abuser who couldn’t care less about the kids or whether the wife lives or dies…as long as he gets what he wants.

As I pointed out earlier…such scenarios are course and simplistic and simply cannot include all of the necessary details that any counselor or confessor would need to have in order to properly guide the person(s) in question…

Peace
James

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