Is birth control ok in life threatening situations


Well, if you hold to your original words:

So fornication or masturbation is not a mortal sin if there is no prospect of marriage and you’re “climbing the walls”?

then this is confirmed by the CCC…it is not always so.

Simply engaging in these grave matters is not always mortally sinful, it is often venial…sometimes even non culpable. Just as Pope FI says re sanctifying grace still operative in irregular relationships.

First, one should do what they can to not to allow their passions to run away in the first place and attempt to subordinate them to reason and the will.

That is not particularly helpful pastoral advice given the likely consequences of a even a single fail.
What is the second option. Separation?


This is a hypothetical victim right, or are we talking about a concrete person and I just didn’t know about it. You seemed to be the one that suggested she ask the rapist about condomns, like he will assent to condoms like a gentleman but not to pleas of “no, stop, don’t rape me.” Totally unrealistic.

Semen could be extracted I suppose, since it was unjust it being there in the first place, but is that in any way what hospitals do? I don’t know, and I’m not really sure it would be alright to do even that, because it could abort an already conceived human person floating around in there.


The point in question is whether preventing a conception that is a consequence of a rape is the act Paul VI taught is intrinsically evil. In the above response, you clearly conclude it is not. That is the most important point. I won’t treat the risk of indirect abortion (which you raise) because that goes to an entirely distinct moral question.

The next relevant point to consider is whether there can be immorality in begging a rapist (rape now in progress) to withdraw prior to ejaculation?

And then to consider whether there can be any immorality in begging a would-be rapist - who is going to violate a woman (physically now exhausted from the struggle) - from doing so with a condom on, rather than off.

Surely you agree that if we can prevent conception my removing sperm, we can do so by avoiding its ingress in the first place.


I am not giving full assent to the idea because I’m not sure, but I am sure it is unjustly there.

That assumes there are no other better options, and that the rapist will respect the wishes of the rapee and grant her wish. Again, all hypothetical and not at all practical. If someone is in that situation they will be doing their best to fight it, and not be thinking of how to nicely ask for withdrawl or condoms.


It’s deeply disturbing that anyone would suggest that the “natural act” should not be frustrated in the case of rape… some seem almost as ready to condemn the victim, who scrambles to swallow a birth control pill, as the rapist himself… Rape is not comparable to the marital embrace and any discussion of the morality of contraception is immaterial to this example of violent assault.


Difficult to discuss if your change position. Your prior hesitance rested on the risk of indirect abortion. You need to put that aside - it is not the moral issue in consideration.

Huh? Why would begging the rapist to withdraw (rather than continue until done) be morally problematic? Are you saying it would be OK to push him away (forcing withdrawal), but not to ask should the woman lack the strength? Tim - I cannot fathom what considerations are guiding your thinking.


I find it perplexing, at the very least.


I’ve read through this, and some very interesting points. Thank you.

Talking about requesting a rapist wear a condom: Someone felt that this was “consent to rape”. Ignoring the fact that this phrase is of itself something of a nonsense. What has stood out to me, is the perception of what rape is. Rape is actually not generally a case of a masked stranger leaping out of the shadows on a dark night. Rape within a marriage or other relationship, forced prostitution, a husband with HIV still insisting on sex with his wife, etc. Many situations that a rape victim could beg for a condom. And the victim has comitted no sin. And I know condoms aren’t the solutions for these problems. But the victim has comitted no sin.

I’m sending this from a mobile device; please forgive the poor standard of English.


Right. Force of habit or passions may lessen culpability but this isn’t something the couple should judge on their own or to use as an excuse to engage in grave matter. In this type of rare but extreme situation, they should put themselves under the care of a spiritual director or priest.

Just because the passions can lessen culpability doesn’t mean we should say “God will understand if you use a condom.” The advice, I would think, would be that they should always be working towards self-mastery, first and foremost, as stated in the CCC along with God’s grace and IF they fall along the way, God in His great mercy offers the Sacrament of Reconcilliation for the forgiveness of any sin.

The CCC advises regarding chastity

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 "Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."127

Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity."128

Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.132 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.1"

In light of the above, the possible lessening of culpability due to passions, shouldn’t be the guiding principle in this situation. The guiding principle is first and foremost chastity and working towards that if the situation calls for it.


The actions of dissenters do not define the dogmas of the Church.

It seems pretty self-explanatory to me… keep the act open to life, and if you do concieve, don’t abort the child.


As an interesting aside, ask a group of bishops if HV is an infallible document.


And that still has its own caveats. Morally, it is meant to be a temporary measure, per the overwhelming majority of literature I’ve read on it. So it only provides the way for a happy Catholic family to have their 2-3 “and no more” if they’re willfully ignorant or dismissive of these qualifications (at which point they’re probably no less disobedient just using contraception).

And it’s only applicable to women with cycles that are 1. clearly measurable and 2. function with clock-work regularity.

Given the obvious perils, its effectiveness outside the lab and in “the field” is low - somewhere in the 80s. It is similar to effectiveness of brute onanism.


Does that also mean that a post menopausal woman is forbidden to have sex with her husband?


Morality evaluates human acts.

  1. Contraception is an act to prevent conception Contra-ception.
  2. A substance is not an act. Substances taken to alleviate medical conditions are not acts, they are substances. Substances are morally neutral. It is not proper to call substances “contraception”.
    For instance: a hammer is an object. Morally neutral.
    Your hammer up inside of my head describes an act of murder. Evil.
    Still, it would be silly and confusing to call a hammer “murder”.
  3. Not all birth control is immoral. A couple can virtuously plan families.
  4. Artificial birth control is immoral because it interrupts the openness of the act to procreation.
  5. Abstinence is not an act…key point here

Sexuality is an act. It can be evaluated.
Properly ordered sexuality is ordered to procreation and unity. A sex act is engaged in such that it is open to these two ends.

  1. proper order which is open to these ends is not the same thing as results. A properly ordered sex act may or may not result in a child. If it were otherwise, the vast majority of marital sex acts would be immoral, because the vast majority of sex acts that are open to the properly ordered ends do not result in a child. You can see the silliness.


Urban myth, urban myth


That is not a magisterial document, it is the opinion of one Diocese (I want to say Connecticut or Delaware)


Ordered to…not “must result in”. there is a difference.
I like the hammer analogy.
A 90 year old man can swing a hammer just so hard. As long as he’s using that hammer for it’s ordered purpose, which is to drive a nail, he’s acting morally. Whether or not he has the strength and aim to get the job done is about results, not proper order.

Results and proper order are not exactly the same thing.


As long as she is able to have normal intercourse, as long as the act is ordered toward procreation, and she is in a valid marriage, why would there be a question?



But can you say that NFP advocates are actually “ordered to” procreation?

Hey wife, let’s get intimate! Oh, wait. Are we within 7 days approaching your estimated ovulation date?


*Sigh. Nevermind babe. Another time.

Is that what a bedroom “‘ordered to’ procreation” looks like?


Keeping in mind we are talking about morality as the evaluation of an act, what do you think?

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